From the monthly archives: January, 2016

We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'January, 2016'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.

How do I survive the next “Snowmageddon”?

Friday's Handwriting on the Wall posts will feature Chuck's new ChristianPost.com column, Ask Chuck. Chuck will be answering questions about what the the Bible has to say about money. Please share on #financialfridays and submit your own questions here. @AskCrown Originally posted at Christian Post January 29, 2016. Dear Chuck,  My family and I were surprised by the scope of the blizzard that affected much of the country, including us, which makes me wonder if there are more things we should be doing to get ready for emergencies like this. What does the Bible have to say about preparing for disasters? I doubt this is the last one I'll see!  Snowed in.    Dear Snowed, Storms like the one that shut down the federal government for days are a great reminder that being prepared for disaster means getting ready for every thing from the next “Snowmageddon” to being ready to face the loss of your job. While talk radio hosts have joked that the lobby ...

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Ever been tempted to cheat on your tax return?

From research compiled by the IRS, 15% of Americans admit to cheating on their tax return. Here are some of the top ways individuals have attempted to deceive the IRS. Claiming the first time homebuyer tax credit when the house was not in fact their first home. Working a job under the table while also getting unemployment benefits. Filing a false insurance claim. Lying about their income to qualify for free government money or assistance programs. Not declaring income earning in tips. Intuit, the owners of TurboTax, surveyed why the 85% of American taxpayers were motivated to be honest with the IRS. The greatest influence was not fear of an audit but a commitment to maintain their personal integrity.   Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.”  Think about how much better off you are to be honest. As Christians, we should never struggle to determine if we are going to be honest in any financial matters.  Always file your ...

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Planner or Worrier? Which one are you?

God's word strongly recommends that we plan carefully and commit to completing what we choose to do, so that it will be a job well done. In Luke 14: 28-31, Jesus says: "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, 'This person began to build and wasn't able to finish.' Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won't he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?" You can see in this passage that Jesus urges us not only to plan but also to plan for a total commitment to a good outcome. The Bible advocates getting some good advice so that your plans can succeed. Proverbs 16:20 notes, "Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord." Or consider Proverbs 15:22, "Plan ...

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I have a simple but powerful budgeting technique for you today.

If you are struggling to spend less than you earn, save money and achieve your financial goals, I want to give you an old-fashioned method that really works.  First, record all of your income and all of your expenses on a single sheet of paper. You can download free budget forms at Crown’s website.  Now, divide your expenses into two categories:  Fixed and Variable.  The Fixed expenses are those things you pay the same amount, month after month, like a mortgage, rent, insurance and loan repayments.  The remaining expenses are Variable, meaning they can go up or down in any given month. These are usually things like eating out, entertainment, groceries, clothes, travel, haircuts and spontaneous things like buying a lottery ticket, which I hope none of you do by the way.  Now, for all these Variable categories, make an actual envelope for each one and carry cash for these expenditures.  Let’s say you have $400 in your grocery envelope for the month.  ...

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Beware of some nasty scams going around right now.

It is good stewardship to be wise and vigilant to avoid falling victim to con artists. A new scam I want you to be aware of involves the same old technique of sending fake emails to ask you to update your account information before the bank can send you your new credit card with an EMV chip. However, they have made the email look very legitimate by using an email address that appears to be coming from your bank and graphics from your bank. The signs that it is a phony email are much harder to detect.  If you get a notice this like, call the number on your bank statement or on the back of your credit card you already have and check it out.  Another one is the fake IRS call.  These are sophisticated and very intimidating. The caller demands immediate payment for overdue taxes. In some cases they will follow up with bogus emails or even impersonate a law enforcement officer and threaten to arrest you.  The IRS says that at least 1,000 people have collectively lost about $5,000,000 to ...

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As a timid investor, is it safe for my family to put money in the stock market?

Friday's Handwriting on the Wall posts will feature Chuck's newChristianPost.com column, Ask Chuck. Chuck will be answering questions about what the the Bible has to say about money. Please share on #financialfridays and submit your own questions here. @AskCrown Originally posted at Christian Post January 22, 2016. Dear Chuck, So far this year, the stock market seems very volatile. My husband and I have some stocks and certainly in most retirement accounts including ours, stocks play a role. I’ve been concerned about the impact of China’s stock problems, which have been much in the news, and I’m wondering if you have any advice on how to invest in the stock market and whether it’s wrong to be there at all. As a timid investor, is it safe for my family to put money in the stock market? Struggling with Stocks   Dear Struggling, You are not alone in wondering whether the stock market is a safe investment these days. Whether it is the recent turbulence ...

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Do you think it’s too early to think about taxes? Guess again!

A lot of people want to get out of debt in the New Year, and don’t know how to get started. But filing taxes early could be the thing that helps you get free. The average tax refund is more than $3,100 – a good start on debt reduction in the New Year. You can file your taxes now and get your refund sooner than later. To get started, gather your tax records, and look through your finances for potential deductions, at Crown.org we can help you think through the possibilities. One of the first decisions you need to make is whether you are a Do-It-Yourself tax preparer OR whether you want to hire an accountant, or, you can save a little money by preparing your own taxes first and then having a professional take a look for a smaller fee. Your legwork can lead to savings. Especially with the help of tax filing software, filing your own taxes is a good idea if you keep good records and don’t have a complicated return.  There are a number of good firms that help you to fi ...

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Are you a big Craigslist user? I have some tips to protect you today.

I’m not that big of a fan or user of Craigslist.  However, my two adult children use it all the time and love it.  But what looks so free and easy has some serious dangers. One couple in Georgia were robbed and murdered by a drug addict when they responded to a fake ad to purchase a vintage car. I also just read of a couple that hired a moving service from a Craigslist ad, only to have all their possessions, their entire household furnishings vanish when the driver failed to deliver the truck to the neighboring state where they were moving. Of course, all his ID and paperwork were phony. Consumer Reporter Clark Howard published a helpful list of tips to protect yourself when you find something on Craigslist that you need. Go to a police precinct to conduct business - Some police departments around the country are being proactive and inviting people to conduct Craigslist business in their precinct. If that isn’t possible; at least meet with your buyer or seller in the parking lot ...

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Does your teenager have a mobile phone?

I read about one of those nightmare stories on CBS News.com of a teenager’s mobile phone bill.  A Florida family was shocked when they got a phone bill for more than $2,000. The big bill was because of a new feature on Apple iPhones that you may not be aware of. A new feature on the iPhone is called “WiFi Assist” which is standard with the new iOS 9.1 operating system. It’s intended to make sure the user always has a good signal by automatically switching to cellular data when a WiFi signal is weak. The teenager in the story uses his phone in his bedroom. He thought he was still connected to WiFi while streaming and surfing the web. Instead, his phone was gobbling up expensive data. I recommend that you check their phone to see if WiFi Assist is turned on. To turn off WiFi Assist, go to settings, then cellular, then down at the bottom users can switch off the feature. Since I have teenage boys, I have a few more tips.  Another thought is to not allow your teenag ...

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Do you have $500 in an emergency savings account?

Did you answer Yes or No?  According to a recent survey by Bankrate.com, 63% of Americans have no emergency savings. To be fair, this doesn’t ask what they may have in retirement or investment accounts. But it does mean that if you have just $500 in a bank account that is set aside exclusively for emergency uses, you are among only the 37% of citizens who could cover a $500 car repair or a portion of a $1,000 bill to visit the emergency room.  When asked how they would manage an unexpected expense, 23% said they would simply reduce spending elsewhere; 15% said they would borrow money from family or friends; another 15% would use their credit card to bridge the gap.  If you are like so many who hear these numbers, you say to yourself or to the radio, “I don’t have enough money to save any!” That is not true.  You don’t make enough money NOT to SAVE.  The problem for most people I counsel is that they have a long-term savings account or retirement plan th ...

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