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Do you want to get out of debt in the New Year?!

Originally posted on the Christian Post on January 6. To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity. Dear Chuck, I read your column about making New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve made mine: Get out of debt. It’s not my first attempt, but I’m hopeful that this time I can do it. I wish I had a more creative tale of woe, but it’s basically the same old boy-goes-to-college, boy-gets-loans-and-credit-cards, boy-wants-out! How should I get started? Looking for a New Beginning   Dear New Beginning, Congratulations on deciding to take another run at getting out of debt. I will address the student loans and the credit cards alike. And yes, you can do this! The final chapter to your tale should be three steps to boy-pays-off-all-debt! Part I - boy-makes-a-plan Your story is important and is shared by many. In fact, a Pew ...

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Thinking about buying a home? You may not want to wait until next year.

You may think December is too busy to consider house hunting, but expert Robyn Woodman at Trulia.com explains that lower buyer competition, motivated sellers, and year-end tax benefits are good reasons to make a purchase now. If you are in the market, it may be worth taking a vacation day to work with a realtor who probably has more time available for showings.  Homes are priced to sell in December because there are fewer active buyers. You may get to avoid multiple offers, bidding wars and escalator clauses. For a home to be on the market in December there may be a need to sell due to a job relocation, financial hardship or personal change of circumstance. It gives you the opportunity to negotiate a price and closing date that works for you. Closing by December 31st allows you to deduct property taxes, mortgage interest, origination points on your loan and interest costs. December is traditionally a slow month for mortgage brokers, meaning they may be motivated to offer special ...

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I think gift cards are a bad idea for a Christmas present

Here are my top four reasons I don’t think unrequested gift cards are a good idea:   #1 – Ever wonder why you see racks of gift cards at every grocery store and retail store?  Studies show that between 20 to 25% of those that receive them never use them.  In other words, the stores make a fortune knowing the cards are likely to go unused due to loss or forgetfulness. #2. They are not the same as cash. If you get a $25 gift card and only spend $23 – you will have a balance of $2 on your card. These small, unused balances are likely to never get used. #3. Some have expiration dates and even penalties if they go unused. To the contrary, cash can earn interest while it is unused. #4. The card limits your options to that specific restaurant, or Starbucks or that iTunes store. Cash can be spent or invested anywhere. If you are not sure what to get your loved one and are tempted to get them a gift card – I have a better idea. Make them a very nice card and ...

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Want to celebrate Christmas without blowing your hard-earned savings? Today, some tips for a Christmas without the financial stress.

First of all, protect yourself from advertising overload. Companies know how to play on our emotions to get us to purchase their products. Rather, pray for legacy-building ideas that don’t require money. Intentionally plan a stress-free holiday that allows you to focus on Christ, the best gift of all. What do you have? Think about it! Time, talent, and training cannot be underestimated! Give of your possessions. Pass down things that can be treasured by others. Take note of what your children or friends especially like in your home. Write letters expressing your love and appreciation. Think about holiday entertainment that you be do as a family without spending money. Serve together. Is there a needy family, widow, or shut-in who your family could help in some way? Yardwork, cooking, cleaning, and car or home repairs are a few ideas. Play together! Board games, puzzles, hiking, walking and outdoor sports are great. Have a bin of toys to occupy the young ...

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Are you looking for ways to earn a little extra money this month? How about emptying out your storage unit!

Joshua Becker who blogs at Becoming Minimalist says 1 in 10 Americans rent off-site storage. Twenty-five percent of Americans have two-car garages but don’t have room to park a vehicle inside, while thirty-two percent can only park one. We have too much stuff and pay to store more. This is a problem! Natalie Campisi at Go Banking Rates.com compiled some interesting statistics. The average national storage unit costs are: $40-$50 per month for a 5-by-5-foot unit $75-$140 per month for a 10-by-15-foot unit Those prices increase for climate controlled units and more square feet. There are times when a temporary unit is needed. But to store things for months on end is a waste of money that could go towards debt repayment, savings, or investing. Here are a few reasons you might be using one: You are too attached to your stuff. Recruit someone to help you go through it! You may need the stuff someday. "Someday" may be costing you more than it’s worth. Why not se ...

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Do you worry you may outlive your retirement savings?

According to a new Bankrate.com survey, “People who earn more than $75,000 have a greater fear that they’ll run out of money in retirement. Overall, 23% of survey respondents say their top worry is that their savings will run out, but 29% of those in the $75,000-and-up income bracket say the same.” According to an article at Time.com, “These fears persist despite thefact that about half of high-income Americans say they’re happy with the amount they’re socking away for retirement, compared to the 29% overall who say they’re happy with their current retirement savings. And even among those earning more than $75,000 a year, more than a quarter say just keeping up with basic living expenses is hampering their retirement savings”. A few ways to avoid outliving your savings is to get out of debt, learn to live on a budget, and reduce your cost of living as much as possible. This will enable you to increase your savings and add to your cushion now as opposed to ...

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HELP! Iā€™m not Ready for the Holidays!

Dear Chuck, I cannot believe that it’s Thanksgiving week, and Christmas is coming in weeks. Most of the time, I feel more stressed than thankful at this time of year (unless you count how thankful I feel when it’s all over!). Have any advice about making Christmas more about Jesus’ birthday and less about a shop-til-you-drop time of year?! Tis the Season for Stress Dear Stressed, Christmas is my favorite season of the year! It is the largest birthday celebration on Earth and appropriately so! Yet, we have tragically moved from worshiping a child lying in a borrowed manger that first Christmas Day to the modern extravaganza marked by frenzied shopping. Just this week my wife and I noticed a mammoth inflatable of Santa and his twelve reindeer on sale at the home improvement store. For only $299, this “yard decoration” could practically hide your entire house from view. Is there any end to these  needless expenses? I’ll step off my soapbox and get to your question... ...

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Today, some tips to avoid ID theft combined with some good news

The number of people who reported being victims of identity theft in affidavits to the IRS has “fallen dramatically” this year, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Through the first nine months of this year, that number is down by more than 50 percent,” he said in a press call, adding that there are about 275,000 fewer identity theft victims than there were a year ago. Fighting ID theft has been one of the IRS’s top priorities in recent years. In the first nine months of 2016, the IRS’s systems stopped more than $4 billion in fraudulent refunds from identity thieves. Almost 500,000 fewer tax returns were stopped this year than in the same period last year, and the commissioner said this is because it has become more difficult for criminals to file fraudulent tax returns as a result of efforts by the software industry. While this is a big improvement, you must be vigilant to protect your personal ID. I favor two simple steps to avoid being a victim. First ...

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Have you unknowingly put your trust in money?

I think we all know that we should not love money.  Read 1 Timothy 6:9,10: "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and intomany foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grieves." In his series, "Gods at War", Kyle Idleman suggests that in Scripture, “Money is most often portrayed as God’s chief competition.” He claims, “Your god is determined by what you put your trust in. So for most people, money is their god.” What if this verse was changed to read: "For the trust of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Would that make it easier to recognize that it is an idol in our lives? It certainly does for me. Another way to recognize this is to consider how we would react to losing all of our money. We tend to grieve the loss of that which we love. Paul offered a s ...

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Black Friday Survival Guide - 10 Ways to Avoid Overspending on the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year

According to the Balance, 133.7 million Americans went shopping on Black Friday weekend in 2014 and spent a total of $50.9 billion. Stores count on bringing in at least 30% of their annual sales justbetween Thanksgiving and Christmas, making you the apple of thousands of marketer’s eyes. So how can you avoid getting dragged into the biggest shopping day of the year and find the best deals while not breaking the budget? Here are 10 tips to keep you from overspending this holiday season. Create a budget. This may seem obvious, but you have to plan ahead and know how much you’ll spend before you start. In order to have an accurate budget, start saving early and don’t budge on the bottom line. Make a list. Think through every person you need to buy a gift for and try to decide what to get them before you go shopping. Spending some time planning up front can keep you from overspending once you start shopping. And it wouldn’t hurt to check your list twice. D ...

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