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Improve your Money and Marriage Communication

 

 

Successful marriages require good communication. The kind of communication you had when you were dating….close-up, honest, often, and generous. Remember, that’s when you realized how much you liked it when she wrinkled her nose as she laughed, and she was able to ignore your receding hairline ☺

When it comes to money and marriage God wants married couples to use money, even challenges with money – to come closer together – not have it damage the relationship. They should think of money as glue to their marriage and not as a wedge that separates. And that requires good communication. To improve your communication, answer these questions together.

How would you rate your communication skills and what can you do to improve? This is the reason we recommend that couples have a weekly money date to pray together and invite the Lord to be part of their financial life, review their income and spending for the week and celebrate when they make progress in their finances. If you establish a time to talk about money, you’ll improve communication.

Do you encourage your spouse and celebrate financial victories? This can change your marriage because when most couples talk about money – there’s a problem. Someone is spending too much or not earning enough. This is why you have to be intentional to celebrate progress. Become your spouse’s number one cheerleader, and it will have a massive impact on the health of your marriage.

What are the biggest differences between you and your spouse? It’s guaranteed that there are going to be differences. As the late Larry Burkett used to say, “If the two of you were the same, one of you would be unnecessary.  One is probably a spender and the other a saver. One is probably more gifted in keeping the budget.  We should celebrate the differences……and the strengths of your spouse can offset your weaknesses.

Have you agreed upon long-term goals? This is super important because when you both know your most important goals and dreams – you’ll spend money on those things that will help you achieve the goals instead of falling prey to impulse spending.

Learn more at compass1.org

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Biblical Perspective On Paying Your Taxes

What is the biblical perspective on paying taxes? That is the same question that was asked of Jesus. “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?. . . [Jesus] said to them, ‘Show Me a[Roman coin]. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?’ And they said, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Then give to Caesar the things that are to Caesars’”(Luke 20:22-25). This is an example of the contrast between the practices of our society and the teaching of Scripture. Avoid paying taxes at any cost, people rationalize; after all, the government squanders much of what it collects.

I am not condoning the waste found in government. In fact, I believe a citizen should make an effort to influence government to be more efficient. But the Bible tells us of an additional responsibility: to pay your taxes! “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God . . . because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due”(Romans 13:1, 6-7). It is permissible to reduce your taxes by using legal tax deductions, but we should be careful not to make unwise decisions simply to avoid paying taxes.

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Is It Time For Plastic Surgery?

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Will you be putting this on your store card today?  Oh, you don’t have one?  Well, if you apply for one today, we can give you $50 off your purchase! Well, if you’ve ever been shopping, I’m guessing that sales pitch sounds familiar. But are department store cards a smart way to save money … or are they a bad idea?

Most of us know someone who has more credit cards than Baskin Robins has ice cream flavors. But 3 out of 10 adults don’t have a credit card, and the average is 2.6 per person which is the lowest number is decades.

Branded retail credit cards can save you money on your purchase when you apply, and often there are other discounts or rewards. So, are retail cards a smart way to save money? No, I don’t recommend them. They are a marketing tool by retailers who also make a lot of money on the interest they charge customers who carry a balance. You’re also more likely to be a victim of identity theft if you have lots of cards.

My suggestion: perform some plastic surgery! Any scissors will do the job!

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How To Overcome Financial Anxiety

 

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Do you every get anxious about your financial problems? If so, how do you overcome this anxiety in a healthy, biblical way?

 

Philippians 4:6-7 is one on the first verses I learned when I was 28 and initially introduced to Christ as my savior It had a major influence on my thinking then, and meditating on it again this week had an equally significant impact.

 

It says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)

 

Let’s unpack this passage together and as we do, I want you to think about some of the things that make you anxious and how this passage might free you from it.

 

It begins with a command: “Be anxious for nothing . . .”  The Lord is clear that regardless of the challenge – health, financial, relational, work or a host of others – we are not to be anxious. Throughout the Bible, we often see issues framed between Our Responsibilities and God’s Responsibilities.

 

Our Part

The next portion of this scripture addresses Our Part, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

 

It is clear that in every circumstance large or small, by our prayers and supplication with thanksgiving we are to tell the Lord our requests. Some people think that they shouldn’t bring their concerns about money to God because He might be too busy running the universe, but He tells us to bring Him everything.

 

We also should bring our prayers to Him with supplication and thanksgiving. The dictionary defines supplication as, “asking or begging for something humbly or earnestly.” Our heart should be submitted to the Lord as we earnestly make our request.

 

God’s Part.

Slowly read what the does in response. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” God will bring us His peace, which is so amazing that it defies understanding, and it guards our hearts and minds in Christ! Can you imagine anything better to overcome financial anxiety!

 

I want to challenge you to meditate on Philippians 4:6-7 the next time you are feeling anxious. Pray with supplication and thanksgiving, then experience the precious peace of God.

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4 Ways To Achieve Your Goals This Year

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Have you already broken your New Year’s Resolutions? You’re not alone. A study found only 8% of people keep their resolutions for four weeks!

 

I don’t do resolutions, but I’ve learned how to make real progress on achieving important yearly goals by doing these 4 things:

 

  1. Identify Goals You Really Want to Achieve.

I break my goals down into 5 categories: Spiritual, Physical, Family, Work & Financial. For example, three of my Spiritual goals are to read through the entire Bible this year, to pray daily through my prayer list, and meditate on one different verse each week.

 

  1. Use numbers to follow your progress

Keeping track of numbers every day helps us stay on track! Here is how I use numbers to help achieve my Physical goals. I have yearly goals of walking 4 miles a day for 300 days, doing pushups 150 days, and lifting light weights 150 days. So, every day I record my progress. I let the numbers speak to me . . . if I’m falling behind, it motivates me to exercise even if I don’t feel like it.

 

  1. Review, review, review

The first thing I do Monday morning is to review the progress I’m making on my goals. For example, if one of your Financial goals is to pay off your credit cards, review how you’re doing. It may become apparent that you need to find a way to earn some extra money each week or cut back on some expenses to reach your goal.

 

  1. Have an accountability buddy

Finally, have a friend or maybe your spouse to mutually hold each other accountable on making progress to achieve your annual goals. Connect with each other once a month and be transparent with your progress.

 

If you do these 4 things, you’ll be so encouraged by the time December 31 rolls around. By God’s grace you will have accomplished important goals that will bring you closer to Christ and your loved ones, and helped you become financially and physically healthier.

 

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Teaching Your Teen To Be Money Smart

 

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When our children were teenagers, we learned that the key to successfully teaching them the biblical perspective of money making and God’s way of money management was to be MVP parents!

The M stands for Modeling, the V stands for Verbally communicating what the Bible says, and the P stands for Practical opportunities for the teens to actually apply what they are learning

Let’s look at money making. The Bible encourages us to work hard. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hands finds to do, do it with all your might.” And laziness is condemned: “He who is slack in his work is brother to him who steals” (Proverbs 18:9). So, how can parents teach their teens to work hard

  • Parents need to be models of hard work themselves because what we do is more impactful than what we say.
  • Assign kids daily household chores to teach faithfulness with routine responsibilities.
  • Provide them opportunities to earn extra money at home, and encourage children to work for others to learn what it means to be in an employee—employer relationship.
  • Requiring your teen work at least one summer in something requiring hard labor is very beneficial. I’ll never forget working one Florida summer in a lumber yard & cement block, and learning what it really meant to work hard.

When it comes to money management, it’s super important for teens to understand that God owns all they have, and they are to be faithful managers of whatever the Lord entrusts to them. They need to learn that Saving is good, Debt is bad, Giving is fun, and they shouldn’t get caught up in impulsively spending money on things they don’t need.

Also teach them how to use a spending plan, a budget. Mint.com is an online system that’s free and would get place for them to start.

To check out our Give, Save, Spend online study for teens click here- http://bit.ly/2il0vTV

To find a good spending plan/budget for your teen click here- http://bit.ly/1aJQxzP

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When Interest Rates Go Up, What Goes Down?

 

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The Federal Reserve raised interest rates ¼ percent on Wednesday, and indicated they were going to raise rates three times in 2017. Since the election, rates on a typical 30-year mortgage have increased by about three quarters of a percent to 4.38%

 

The increase in rates will ultimately impact those who have already borrowed using an adjustable rate  Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) because the interest on these loans go up at the rates rise. Unfortunately, more and more lenders are now starting to aggressively market these adjustable loans. Please don’t get trapped into one of these!

 

This is the reason that we have consistently encouraged people to only get fixed rate loans if you have to borrow. When you have an adjustable rate loan, your interest rates are free to float higher and this can be very expensive and even risky.

 

Also, when rates go up, the value of bonds go down, and the longer the maturity of the bond the more it declines on value. In fact, investors worldwide have already lost trillions of dollars of value with the current increases in rates.

 

But there is also good news . . . for savers! The higher rates will translate into higher interest earned on your savings. For this I am very grateful, especially for seniors who were faithful to save, but have been earning next to nothing for almost eight years.

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Attitudes In Giving

 

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Few areas of the Christian life can be more misunderstood and frustrating than that of generosity. My entire perspective changed after learning what the Bible actually teaches—suddenly I wanted to be generous. But then I was frustrated by another problem: an unlimited number of needs versus my limited resources. How should I decide where to give? My church, the hungry poor, campus and prison ministries, missionary efforts, radio and television programs, and many other vital ministries needed financial support.

Attitudes in Giving

God evaluates our actions on the basis of our attitudes. John 3:16 reveals his attitude toward giving: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (emphasis added). Note the sequence. Because God loved, he gave. Because God is love, he is also a giver. He set the example of generosity motivated by love.

An attitude of love in giving is crucial: “If I give all my possessions to feed the poor…but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3) What could be more commendable than giving everything to the poor? However, generosity without an attitude of love provides no benefit to the giver.

In God’s economy, the attitude is more important than the amount. Jesus emphasized this in Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former.” The Pharisees had been careful to give the correct amount, but Christ rebuked them because of their attitude. He looks past the amount of the gift to the heart of the giver.

We can consistently give with love only when we recognize that we are giving to the Lord himself. We see an example of this in Numbers 18:24: “The tithe of the sons of Israel… they offer as an offering to the Lord” (emphasis added). If giving is merely to a church, a ministry, or a needy person, it is only charity; giving to the Lord is always an act of worship, expressing love and gratitude to our Creator, Savior, and faithful Provider. Whenever we put something in the offering plate, we should remind ourselves that our gift goes to the Lord himself.

In addition to giving with love, we are to give cheerfully. “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) The original Greek word for cheerful is hilarios, which is translated into the English word hilarious. What a picture that creates! We are to be joyful givers.

When was the last time you saw hilarity when the offering plate was passed? The atmosphere more often reminds us of a patient in the dentist chair awaiting a painful extraction. So how do we develop this hilarity in our giving? Consider the early churches of Macedonia: “We want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2)

How did the Macedonians, who were in terrible circumstances, “severe trial,” and “extreme poverty,” still manage to give with “overflowing joy”? The answer is in verse five: “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.” The key to cheerful giving is to yield ourselves to Christ, and ask him to direct how much he wants us to give. That places us in a position to experience the advantages of giving with the proper attitude.

Stop and examine yourself. What is your attitude toward giving?

Advantages of Giving

Gifts obviously benefit the recipient. The church continues its ministry, the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, and missionaries are sent. But in God’s economy, gifts given with the proper attitude benefit the giver more than the receiver. “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35) As we examine Scripture, we find that the giver benefits in four significant areas.

1. An increase in intimacy

Above all else, giving directs our heart to Christ. Matthew 6:21 tells us: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This is why it is necessary to give each gift to the person of Jesus Christ: it draws our heart to him. Do you remember the faithful steward in the parable of the talents, and his eventual reward? “Enter into the joy of your Master.” (Matthew 25:21) Giving is one of your responsibilities as a steward, and the more faithful you are in fulfilling your responsibilities, the more you can enter into the joy of knowing Christ more closely. Nothing in life compares with that.

2. An increase in character

Our heavenly Father wants ushis children­—to conform to the image of his son. The character of Christ is that of an unselfish giver. Unfortunately, humans are selfish by nature. One essential way we become conformed to Christ is by regular giving. Someone once said, “Giving is not God’s way of raising money; it is God’s way of raising people into the likeness of his son.”

3. An increase in heaven

Matthew 6:20 reads: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.” The Lord tells us that heaven has its own “First National Bank,” where we can invest for eternity. Paul wrote: “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.” (Philippians 4:17) Each of us has an account in heaven that we will be able to enjoy for eternity. Although it is true that we “can’t take it with us when we die,” Scripture teaches that we can make deposits to our heavenly account before we die.

4. An increase on earth

Many people have a hard time believing that giving results in material blessings flowing back to the giver. Time and again, however, we encounter that very principle in the pages of Scripture. Consider Proverbs 11:24-25: “There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”

Examine 2 Corinthians 9:6-11: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully…. God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality.”

These verses clearly teach that giving results in a material increase: “…will also reap bountifully …always having all sufficiency in everything…may have an abundance…will supply and multiply your seed…you will be enriched in everything.”

But note carefully why the Lord returns a material increase: “Always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…will supply and multiply your seed for sowing…you will be enriched in everything for all liberality.” As shown in the diagram below, the Lord produces an increase so that we may give more and have our needs met at the same time.

Study the cycle of giving. One reason the Lord reveals that we can anticipate a material increase is because he wants us to recognize that he is behind it. God has chosen to be invisible, but he wants us to experience his reality.

When we give, we should do so with a sense of expectation—anticipating an increase from the Lord even though we have no idea how or when he may choose to provide it. Our experience has shown him to be very creative! Remember, givers experience the advantages of giving only when they give cheerfully and with love—not when the motive is just to get.

Amount to Give

Let’s survey what the Bible says about how much to give. Before the Old Testament law, there were two instances of giving a known amount. In Genesis 14:20, Abraham gave ten percent—a tithe—after the rescue of his nephew Lot. And in Genesis 28:22, Jacob promised to give the Lord a tenth of all his possessions if God brought him safely through his journey. With the Law came the requirement of the tithe. The Lord condemns the children of Israel in Malachi 3:8-9 for not tithing properly: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you!”

In addition to the tithe, there were various offerings. The Lord also made special provisions for the poor. Every seven years all debts were forgiven; every fifty years the land was returned to the original land-owning families. Special harvesting rules allowed the poor to glean behind the harvesters.

God made another significant provision for the poor in Deuteronomy 15:7-8: “If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.” Even under the law, the extent of one’s giving was not to be limited by a locked-in, fixed percentage but was to be adjusted by surrounding needs. The New Testament teaches that we are to give in proportion to the material blessing we receive. It also commends sacrificial giving.

What I like about the tithe is that it is systematic, and the amount of the gift is easy to compute. The danger of the tithe is that it can be treated as simply “another bill” to be paid. If we fall into that sort of attitude or rut, we will not be in a position to receive God’s richest blessings. Another potential danger of tithing is the assumption that once we have tithed, we have fulfilled all our obligations to give. For many Christians, the tithe should be the beginning of their giving, not the limit. And we should never, never close our hearts to the obvious needs we encounter in our path through life.

How much should you give? To answer this question, first give yourself to the Lord. Submit yourself to him. Earnestly seek his will for you concerning giving. Ask him to help you obey his leading. I am convinced that we should tithe as a minimum and then give over and above the tithe as the Lord prospers or directs us.

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Vote For America

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The most contentious campaign in our lifetime for the office of president is thankfully drawing to a close. Now is the time for “we the people” to vote for those who will lead our local, state and national governments.

 

I want to challenge you as strongly as I know how – to vote! In our nation, we have the amazing privilege of voting. Countless men and women have sacrificed everything, including their lives, to leave us the legacy of freedom and the right to choose our elected officials.

 

It is especially important for followers of Christ to vote and be prayerful and careful in our selection of who we support when we cast our ballots. Each of us should guard against being unduly influenced by the media and negative ads trashing candidates. Instead, we should focus on some basic filters through which we can evaluate those running.

 

For my wife, Bev, and me, our first filter is this: Is the candidate committed to protecting the most vulnerable and helpless among us – the unborn? If the answer is no, we will not vote for them. Part of the reason we are so passionate about this as our first filter, is that we adopted both of our children as newborn babies, and three of our four grandchildren were also adopted as babies. We cannot imagine life without them and are so grateful that our children love Jesus and follow Him. God is all about life!

 

So please, VOTE! And please establish your own filter through which to evaluate the candidates.

 

Warmly in Christ,

 

Howard Dayton

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Explaining Financial Lingo

 

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Financial lingo can sometimes sound like a foreign language. What are indexed annuities? What is an amortization schedule? How ’bout a no-load fund? Well, if you sometimes hear financial terms and you don’t quite know what they all mean, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s look some common financial terms.

What are large cap stocks and small cap stocks? What does all that “cap” stuff mean? Cap is short for capitalization which simply is the total value of the company’s shares. Large cap stocks have a market value of $5 billion or more, and small caps have market values of between $50 and $500 million.

What’s a mutual fund, and how does that differ from simply buying a stock? A mutual fund typically holds ownership in maybe hundreds of different companies. If you buy a stock, you buy ownership in just one company.

What is a growth stock mutual fund? It’s a mutual fund where the primary objective is appreciation of the stocks it holds.  It may not payout much of a dividend.

What’s definition of an IRA and a Roth IRA, and what is the difference? They are Individual Retirement Accounts that are tax advantaged and both grow tax free.  When you invest in an IRA you get a tax deduction on what you put in, and you pay taxes on what you take out. With the Roth IRA, you don’t get a tax deduction on what you put in, but what you take out is tax free.

What’s an amortization schedule? An amortization schedule is simply a loan repayment schedule for a real estate mortgage.

What is a will, and what’s a trust? What’s the difference between the two? Both wills and trusts name one or more people to manage an estate and direct how the assets are to be distributed. The biggest difference is that a trust does not have to go thru probate.

Learn and understand these terms and you will have passed your first test in Financial lingo 101!