Is it the credit card that is preventing you from becoming financially free?

Many cannot imagine living in the modern world of electronic commerce without the use of a credit card. Because of that, I see couples that basically manage their entire budget around keeping their credit card balances paid down enough to stay out of hot water. Did you know that if you carry a large monthly balance on your credit card and pay only the minimum monthly payments, you are actually creating a debt more expensive than your home mortgage? None of us would ever order pizza knowing we would be paying for it over the next 25 years, would we?  Imagine calling your bank and saying, “I need to order a few pizzas this weekend for the football game we are watching. It will cost about $25. Can I borrow that money and pay you back for the next 25 years at 14% interest?” Yikes!  Here is what I want you to do if you are carrying credit card balances.  First, make a plan to pay off all your balances. We have a Debt Snowball Calculator at Crown.org that will help you make ...

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Are you confused by retirement accounts and investments?

Christine wrote me with this question: I have worked several different jobs. I have retirement money affiliated with each employer. I am considering consolidating to one new account, but I am confused on who to invest with and what type of account to open? Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Christine, you have a few basic options to consider: Leave your money in your former employer's plan, if your former employer permits it. Roll over your money to a new 401(k) plan, if this option is available. Roll over your money to a Traditional IRA. Roll over your money to a Roth IRA. Take a cash distribution. First, be sure it is to your advantage to move the money from your former employer’s 401(k) plan. It you are allowed the same options and controls over the account as an existing employee, it may be to your benefit to leave the money where it is. Ask a professional financial advisor to help you analyze this option. Depending on some variables, you can chose to l ...

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Shopping and Emotions

According to Heather Gilmore, a writer for The Dollar Stretcher.com, “emotions can lead to the desire to shop or, on the other hand, shopping can lead to emotions. Shopping can be prompted by sadness, grief, loss, insecurity, guilt, and excitement.” Shopping can create a pleasurable experience making people want toexperience the "high" again. The after-shopping experience can involve positive or negative emotions that can affect future decisions about shopping. A person might feel guilt over having spent more money than what they had set aside in their budget. This may then create an unsettling feeling during future shopping experiences. It may create an aversion toward shopping (a feeling like a person should not purchase needed things), which might make future spending less likely, or create such an increased feeling of guilt or shame that there is no desire to purchase anything in the future. Experts understand this and market to your emotions - merchants from grocery stores, furni ...

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Benefits of a healthy lifestyle

With medical expenses being the number one cause of financial hardships, it pays to work at staying healthy. Here are few simple  tips/benefits for staying healthy: Take advantage of free ways to exercise. YouTube sessions, walking, dancing, and stretching; check out churches, senior centers, or the YMCA for exercise classes for little or no cost. Park farther from your destination so you walk more. Be aware of the need to move. Wear a fitbit and record your progress. Keep portions in check. Food portions should be the size of a small fist. Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. When ordering, ask restaurants to pre-bag half your meal to go and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Save money on clothes. People who go up and down a clothing size every few months know that clothing expenses are costly. Keeping your weight at a healthy consistent level allows you to wear pieces longer and shop sales for your size. Spend less money on unhealthy vices. C ...

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Paying with cash

Yahoo Finance recently reported that paying with cash helps you save and gives you more joy. Avni Sha, a professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, studied the effect of paying with cash and says it does indeed make us more frugal and adds positive emotion to transactions. Further, it potentially promotes repeat business. Cash forces you to consciously think about what you are buying. Rather than blindly using your credit card and deferring payment, cash forces you to make that decision at checkout. It enables you to say “no” when your children ask or beg for things that they do not need. Each dollar you physically spend leaves fewer in your wallet. That causes a pain that we need to occasionally experience. For a minimum of two weeks, monitor what you spend and record all transactions. Does that mean you will be miserable for two weeks? NO! It may be a challenge, but go in with a positive mindset and the desire to reset and track your habits. You may find so ...

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Do you have the heart of a steward?

David wrote in Psalm 62:10, “If riches increase, set not your heart on them.” He was warning us of the risk that increased wealth brings to our love for God. A friend of mine likes to paraphrase the verse this way: “Don’t fall in love with the dough, but keep your heart fixed on the Baker who provided the dough.” The heart of a steward is to love God and God only. Jesus taught us that you cannot serve God and money – that we would love one and hate the other. To protect our hearts and remain a faithful steward, we must acknowledge these truths: First, we are not the owners of the riches – we are the temporary caretakers of them. Second, riches are not only a blessing, they are a responsibility. Our prayers should be continual acknowledgement and thankfulness for what God has provided, and a continual seeking of how God wants us to manage what He has entrusted to our care. The Parable of the Talents makes it clear that the unfaithful steward did not believe God o ...

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Is your student loan stressing you out?

New college graduates are leaving school with an average of $37,000 in student loan debt and the impact can cause significant stress. Research from the 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers indicates some significant impact to overall financial well being for workers who have student loan debtvs. those who don’t. Almost twice as many employees with student loan debt say they are stressed about their finances (81% to 46%), they use credit cards to pay for monthly necessities because they are unable to afford them otherwise (41% to 22%), and they find it difficult to meet their household expenses on time each month (65% to 35%). The same ratio of 2 to 1 say finances have been a distraction at work for those with student loan debt (50% to 23%). These are all great reasons to make a plan to pay off your student loan debt. To do so, set a goal. That means to determine how much extra you pay towards getting out of debt and over what period of time you will do this to ...

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“Budget Hack” Work to Save Big Bucks

Originally posted on the Christian Post on October 28. 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 seen that you really encourage people to save $1,000 that they don’t touch at all except for extreme emergencies, but seriously, I CAN’T DO IT!  I need some advice on where to cut because I’m so close to the edge. Got any ideas? Open to Suggestion Dear Open, Trust me, you are not the first person to feel that way or ask that question! Most of us are so busy that we don’t feel we have the time to stop and evaluate our spending. The first thing you need to do is be sure that you have a functional budget. You may be surprised to see just where your money goes when you work through a plan. Crown has some wonderful free tools to help you with that, but let’s assume that you have a good budget in ...

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You can save $1,000…Oh yes, you can!

I just read another story of person who has saved $150,000 at age 26 and wants to have enough money to retire by age 37. You want to know how he did that? He lived on less than he was earning. Substantially less, and put money aside every month. That should come as no surprise. So please, if you are among the 70% of Americans who don’t have $1,000 in the bank, don’t tell me it can’t be done. I’m a man on a mission!  My mission is to help you tackle the first bigobstacle to experiencing financial freedom and that is developing a savings mindset and a saving plan to get to the first destination on the Crown Money Map. To have $1,000 or ten $100 bills in cash, saved and in a place you can get it if you need it.  First, make up your mind. The time is now. Second, develop a plan. Third, commit it to the Lord and act on your plan.  And one more thing: Send me an email and tell me you are making the commitment. I am giving you my email address: chuck@crown.org. I w ...

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Is your car a “wealth slayer? It may be killing your financial freedom.

Jeff Rose, a contributor at Forbes wrote that Experian’s State of the Automotive Finance Study revealed that the average new car payment reached $499 per month last quarter with the average new car loan lasting 68 months. People! Take a look at yourselves! Jeff says if you purchase a new car at 25 with a $500 per month payment and traded it in at the end of each contract, over 30 years it would cost you $179,640. Do you know what you could do with that much money? Assume you save $83 per month, which gives you $1,000/year for a replacement used car. If you invested that monthly payment of $500, less the $83, at 6% for 30 years you would have $394,335.91 and a lot more if you earn a higher rate of return.  By restricting yourself to used car purchases, you could steward that monthly payment in other ways that earn you money, not cost you a fortune in needless interest payments. Instead, you could have: An Emergency Savings Account A work-sponsored 401(k) account An IR ...

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