From the monthly archives: October, 2015

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How does God’s financial advice compare to the world’s?

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter Few people see the Bible as a financial guidebook but the Scripture is full of spiritual and practical advice.  Here are the top three lessons where the Bible differs from all other financial advice.  First, money is not our master. Cash is not king. Becoming a millionaire is not an appropriate life purpose.  The Bible makes a clear distinction in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Serving money means we allow it to control our decisions, our direction, even our life purpose.  As Christians, we must not allow money to usurp God’s leading and control our daily decisions. Second, we are not owners of anything; we are temporary trustees of God’s property.  Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord&rs ...

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Today, the 6 basic financial moves everyone needs to make.

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter I am often asked to share basic financial moves.  Here are my top six: First, make giving to the Lord’s work your top financial priority. The Bible calls us to honor the Lord with the first fruits of our wealth.  I believe 10% of our gross annual income is the starting goal. Next, have an Emergency Savings Account. Start with a $1,000.  Build it up to 3-6 months of your income to be prepared for unexpected expenses. It is more essential than a long-term retirement account. Third, pay off debt. Consumer debt like credit cards, store accounts or loans from family and friends needs to go first. After that, pay off student loans and mortgage loans. Fourth, have an up to date written will. If you don’t have a will, the government has one for you and you won’t like it. This is essential for married couples - especially those with children.  Fifth, be sure y ...

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I never purchase extended warranties.

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter I was with a friend from church who was buying some musical equipment for his children. When he got to the place where the cashier made the pitch for the extended warranty plans he said, “Hold on a minute, I want to ask an expert.”  He then walked over to me and said, “Should I take the extended warranty?”  “Of course!”, I said. Just kidding. My friend, a professional accountant, laughed as I explained that I never buy them. He said, “Great! I never do either but just wanted to check and be sure I was not making a big mistake.”  Here’s why they don’t make sense to me.  First, I am buying a brand new product that comes with a limited time warranty from manufacturing defects. If the product does not work as expected you can likely return it within the first 30 days without a problem so long as you have not abused the product.& ...

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I appreciate a famous quote from Francis of Assisi -

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” Paul said in Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” We are each made in His image and created to do good works.  The question is whether we are going to put in a half hearted effort or give the task at hand our very best. Those who put our hands, head and heart into our work are like the artist who wants others to be captivated by the beauty of the art. But unlike an artist who only wants the public to admire his work, we are called to seek to please the Lord Christ.  His approval is the only o ...

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What percentage of your income should you save?

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter Americans are currently saving an average of 4% of their annual income.  This is the lowest savings rate for any country in the developed world.  At a seminar I just completed, a participant asked me, “Well then, what is the right percentage of our income that we should be saving?” Glad you asked. First, make a distinction between money that you want to save and money that you want to invest.  Savings should be money that is relatively safe, and can be accessed at any time a need arises. It is important to save $1,000 and to keep that money on hand in an Emergency Savings Account that you do not spend unless absolutely necessary.  Next, keep saving until you have 3 to 6 months of your living expenses in this account. After these savings goals have been met, you should save for major purchase and begin using those funds to invest.  Most people I talk to hav ...

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Are you paying to have a checking account? I hope not.

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter According to the percentage of banks offering free checking with no strings attached fell to 37% in 2015. A total of 95% of the noninterest-bearing accounts Bankrate surveyed were either free or waive monthly maintenance fees for account holders who meet certain requirements, such as keeping a minimum balance or, most commonly, making regular direct deposits. Unfortunately, according to the survey, “those who don't meet those requirements for free checking are now paying higher fees as well. The average monthly maintenance fee posted a double-digit gain in this year's survey, rising 11% to a new high of $5.86 (about $6).” That means the average is now about $72/year to have a checking account if you don’t qualify for a free account. My advice is to find a way to get it for free.  The best option is to direct deposits or maintain a minimum monthly balanc ...

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Six best practices for good stewards.

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter The Bible makes it clear that the standard for good stewardship is that we are to be both faithful and disciplined.  Here is my list of best practices for good stewards. Be faithful by honoring God with the first fruit of all your income. That means make giving to God’s causes your highest priority. All other financial decisions come second. Be disciplined in your spending decisions. We are to “count the cost” before we start to build. By carefully spending less than you earn, you will create a surplus to be able to achieve your God-given goals and dreams. It takes financial margin to achieve our goals. Be disciplined by consistently saving a portion of all your income. This means you should have an Emergency Savings account starting with $1,000 and growing that to a minimum of 90 days of your gross annual income. Be faithful by acknowledging that G ...

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Credit cards are not evil!

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter This may surprise you but I carry a credit card, never fail to pay off my balance at the end of the month or pay late fees. For that, Ann and I take advantage of the convenience the card allows, earn airline miles and enjoy 30 days of interest free money. I have been asked, “Why do you endorse credit cards? I was taught that they are evil and we should cut them up in little pieces!”  Credit cards are a form of currency.  It is true that there are horror stories of unsuspecting folks who get trapped in a cycle of debt that is near impossible to escape. The problem is not the card:  it is using one if you are ignorant of the contract you have signed or you lack self-control. If either or both of those conditions are challenges you face, don’t use a credit card, use cash only.  However, 53% of folks 30 years or older who carry a credit card pay off their bala ...

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Are you hedged against economic uncertainties?

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter While we don’t know the future, it is wise to remain prepared against uncertainties. For instance, you don’t know how long you will be able to stay healthy or if you will experience a job loss. Further, you should be very skeptical right now about the economic strength of the world’s largest economies such as China, Europe, Japan and the USA.  These nations have averted economic pain through quantitative easing, economic policy and market controls but it doesn’t mean we are not vulnerable to a correction. So what is hedging and how does one go about it? According to Investopedia, “’Hedging’ or ‘Hedging risk’ is making an investment to reduce the risk of adverse price movements in an asset. In other words, investors hedge one investment by making another.”So how do you hedge against life’s economic uncertainties?  First ...

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So what happened with all that Shemitah stuff?

Posted by Chuck Bentley Find me on:  Facebook Twitter Many are asking if we dodged an economic collapse that Rabbi Jonathan Cahn warned us about in his NY Times best selling book, The Shemitah.  It is true that the Shemitah occurred in September, 2015.  If you are like me, you may have been expecting a severe economic shaking that seems to have been avoided. I happened to be in China during the time when it was expected that an economic collapse might begin during the Shemitah. The Chinese stock markets began to meltdown. The value of their market dropped by over 50%. The government stepped in and curtailed further damage with extreme measures to prevent a 1929 style collapse.  The US markets got nervous but then seemed to stabilize.  My perspective has not changed. The entire Global economic & financial system is now functioning under great stress.   The root causes have not been addressed as the superficial symptoms are ...

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