Thou Shalt Not Steal … Music included!

Originally posted on the Christian Post on December 16. 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’ve been trying to talk to my children about Christian values and ethics. In the Bible, Jesus always brings simple truth into complicated situations, and I am trying to teach my kids to do the same. My kids and I have had some very interesting conversations about “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” which really covers more than just robbing a bank. What are some ways that people steal that I can discuss with my family to better illustrate the point? A Parent Looking for some Parables Dear Parent, Thanks for the question! Bringing the scripture to life in everyday situations is one of a parent’s most important roles in the life of a child, according to Deuteronomy 11. Understanding the Ten Commandments, laid out in Exodus 20, is a great plac ...

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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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6 Christmas Budget Busters - The most common traps to overspending at the holidays and tips on how you can avoid them

Christmas shopping can be the most expensive and stressful shopping experience of the entire year year. Many stores count on last minute, frantic shoppers to overspend out of desperation. Crown Financial Ministries has compiled a list of these Christmas Budget Busters for you to lookout for and tips on how to avoid them. Procrastinating. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point, but procrastinating around Christmastime is a dangerous budget-buster. If you feel stressed, frantic, or rushed while you are shopping, you’re likely to spend more than you planned. Stores anticipate this and place the big, sparkly displays with the over-priced items in the most visible places throughout the store. You see it, grab something in a rush, and checkout without even consulting your list or budget.  How to avoid it: Shop smart! If you have waited to the last minute, take a friend or set up accountability for yourself when you go shopping. Cramming in last minute ...

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Do you know how much the average American has in their checking account?

While it is difficult to know for sure, one study by bank consulting firm Moebs Services indicates that the average American has $4,436 in their bank account. This is an amount that accounts for averages in people’s checking accounts specifically and was notable a couple of years ago because it represented a significant jump from 2012’s numbers. What’s even more interesting is how much higher that figure is than it was in 2007, just prior to the Great Recession. At that time, the average American only had $788 in their checking accounts. This points to a change in financial behavior likely due to the scare of the downturn of the economy in 2009. People began to keep more available cash on hand. However, this study reveals a large increase in what is held in our checking accounts. It does not mean the average American has this much in a savings account. Studies reveal that 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account. As Christians, we shoul ...

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What is the number one financial regret of older Americans?

“Most Americans are filled with regrets — financial regrets. Fully three in four, in fact, admit they harbor financial regrets, according to a survey of more than 1,000 adults by Bankrate.com. Their biggest regret: not saving for retirement early enough (nearly one in five Americans put this in the No. 1 spot). What’s more, among those age 65 and up, 27% said this was the biggest regret, compared with 17% of those aged 30 to 49." Those in the younger generation are probably just not old enough to realize they probably have also started saving too late!  Now, here is the tragedy of this regret. God’s Word teaches us to save. It should be a regular part of our life to regularly save money. And it’s never too late to start. You can also make progress on saving money by taking on an extra job or starting a small business or service to increase your income. God will be faithful to provide your needs; our part is to be faithful to obey His commands and princi ...

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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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Holiday Havoc: Married to Ebenezer Scrooge, but I still love Christmas!

Originally posted on the Christian Post on December 9. 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, My spouse and I are on the opposite sides of Christmas. He’s kind of an Ebenezer Scrooge, doesn’t want to spend any money and thinks most decorating is a waste of time and resources, but I love the excitement of the season, and gift giving is a way I like to show my affection. Every year, we end up having huge disagreements over how to celebrate the holiday. He is a Christian, and so we both share an appreciation of Christmas as a celebration of Jesus’ birth, but we are not on the same page at all on what that looks like … or how much money to spend. Can you help us? Tired of Christmas Conflict Dear Tired of Conflict, If it makes you feel any better, you’re not the first person to ask me that question. Just because you and y ...

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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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Most college students focus on the present without any serious thought to what lies ahead 10-20 years from now. But, they should be saving for the future.

Students should save so that they are in the habit later in the workplace. Giving to the Lord first, then paying themselves should become a way of life even before graduating high school. Learning to delay gratification for a future need is crucial. In an August article at CheatSheet.com, Eric McWhinnie stated that spending less than you earn and investing the difference is the key to financial independence. I agree! Yet, most people fail to realize the benefit of starting early. In fact, only 27% of respondents in a survey at MoneyRates.com started saving in their 20s. The benefits are undeniable when observing the effects of compounding interest over several decades. A person who starts investing at age 25 and invests for only 10 years but allows it to grow will have substantially more at age 65 than a person who invests the same amount starting at age 35. Starting early makes a tremendous difference. * Retirement savings are growing more and more necessary because people are living ...

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