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Are you resolved to get out of debt in 2017? I have some practical steps for you today.

For the average American, interest payments consume the largest chunks of their monthly paycheck. There is interest on credit card balances, student loans, store accounts, and mortgages. Here are some ways to get started paying it off this year! Make a resolution that by December 31 of this year, you will have significantly reduced your high-interest debt. It takes a plan and perseverance to achieve your goal.  Use your income tax refund, which is estimated to be around $3,800 this year for the average American, to pay off your highest interest debt first. It is the one costing you the most and will provide the biggest relief to get it paid off. The sooner you file, the sooner you get your refund.   Next, adjust your withholding or estimated quarterly payments to be sure you are likely not to get a refund next year.  For many, this could mean an extra $300 per month in your pocket that can be applied towards debt reduction. So think about it, if you do both of the ...

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Jay Leno has never touched a dime of the money he earned on the Tonight Show.

According to an article at Yahoo Finance, Leno says "I always had two incomes. I'd bank one and I'd spend one." And he made sure to spend the smaller amount. "When I was younger, I would always save the money I made working at the car dealership and I would spend the money I made as a comedian," he says. "When I started to get a bit famous, the money I was making as a comedian was way more than the money I was making at the car dealership, so I would bank that and spend the car dealership money. I've never touched a dime of my 'Tonight Show' money. Ever." I wonder if he realizes he is using a biblical principle with this two-income strategy? Ecclesiastes 11: 6 says: Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. Mr. Leno not only had two sources of income, he learned to live on the smallest of the two. As we wrap up the year, think about this example and how you can apply it t ...

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Tis the Season for Charitable Giving

Originally posted on the Christian Post on December 23. 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 mail and email are full of requests for end-of-year donations, and there are so many good causes. But it’s hard to balance how to give at a time of year when I’m shopping for so many. How important is it to close out the year with charitable giving? What kind of choices need to be made? It’s hard to get the money together for Christmas, but I feel guilty when I see those financial needs piling up. How should I balance these things? Charitably Challenged.   Dear Challenged, Since there are so many great and worthy causes, I can understand your challenge. I will speak to the question of balance and priorities, but the importance of giving is the focus of my response. You ask a great question that’s really about the st ...

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Are you guilty of buying things you don’t need? Are your closets full? Maybe you get a rush shopping?

All of us have probably purchased something we didn’t need. But, do you know why? Lauren Greutman, gives reasons in an article she wrote for the Huffington Post. Here are a few she discovered, with my solutions to the problem. You want to impress people. Solution: Find your true identity in Christ. Greed and pride can stunt your character and will keep you in bondage. You’re in the habit. Solution: In just 21 days you can break the shopping habit and develop a savings habit instead. Only go to the store if necessary and then, with a list. Avoid any impulse purchases. Pray before you go to avoid temptation. You don’t think through what you already have before buying. Solution: Could it be that you are not thankful for what you have? Or, maybe your closets are so full you have forgotten what is there? Use what you have and donate or sell the excess. You’re depressed and you feel better buying stuff. Solution: In the long term, these purchases are not ...

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Our world teaches that more is better. But have you ever considered that less is more?

Dolly Parton grew up in a 1-room cabin in the woods and says being poor was good for her. Why? She saw her parents struggle and stretch a dollar. Think about it. When you don't have as much, you develop skills that those with much don’t have the opportunity to learn; things like sewing, cooking, cleaning, and home and auto repairs. You learn how to manage time when you must hold down several jobs. You trade favors with friends and family rather than just buying what you need. You learn to make do with what you have. You know how to live without things others consider necessities. Instead of going to the movies, concerts, ballets and sporting events, you host your own concerts, write your own plays, and compete against yourself or family members. Creativity blossoms when economy demands. Growing up with less can actually breed perseverance, self-discipline and humility that propel the talented into successful careers. Famous singer, Celine Dion, a native of Canada, is the youngest of 14 c ...

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Thinking about selling your home? It may sound crazy, but there are good reasons to list during the holidays!

Recently I shared some good reasons to buy a home at year end. Today, I want to share why it is good to list your home for sale during November and December. Three years ago, we sold our home in November after listing it with Nikki Bonds. She is a successful realtor with some good reasons to list your home during the holidays. See if you’re convinced! First, people who look for a home during the holidays are more serious buyers. Since there are fewer houses to choose from now and less competition, that means more money for you. Second, houses often show better when decorated for the holidays. Serious buyers are more emotional during the holidays and more likely to pay your price. Buyers have more time to look for a home during the holidays and some people must buy before year-end for tax reasons. Nikki reminds us that January is traditionally the month for employees to begin new jobs. Since transferees cannot wait until spring to buy, your home should be on the market now to capture those ...

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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 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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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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