From the monthly archives: July, 2016

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God has a part and we have a part…

In this passage from Proverbs 2: 1-5, listen to the words “if”.  Those are statements of our part and then listen for the word “then”. That is the statement of God’s part.  “My son, if you accept my words  and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord  and find the knowledge of God." Far too often we want God to do His part before we are willing to do our part.  We want the promises of the “then” but not the requirements of the “if”.  This is especially true when it comes to our finances.  We want God to pour out His blessings on us, we want God to take care of our bills, we want God to get us out of debt, we want God t ...

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Did you know a healthy lifestyle saves you money?

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. You Tube 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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Are your ready for the 2nd biggest shopping season of the year?

That’s right! Back to school shopping is big business and advertisers have worked hard to earn your money. Last year parents spent an average of $1,239 for the back-to-school season. Preparing now will help you save hundreds of dollars. Here are some quick tips. Do your research, print coupons, and don’t shop with your children unless they are old enough to make it a learning experience. Then by all means, use this to teach them about managing money. Ellie Kay recommends giving students an age appropriate budget and coaching them for the shopping season. Also, budget wisely for lunches. If you buy washable sandwich bags, lunch cubes and real spoons you’ll save money in the long run and keep plastic out of the landfill. Buy in bulk and divide into lunch size portions rather than paying extra for ready-made items. Teach children to prepare their own healthy meals. A semester of repetitive instruction will grant you years of payoff. Don’t be afraid to say “No”. New cloth ...

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School is right around the corner. Are you ready?

It’s the 2nd biggest shopping season of the year. That’s right! Back to school shopping is big business and advertisers are working hard to earn your money. In 2015, the American Express Spending & Savings Tracker estimated parents would spend an average of $1,239 for the back-to-school season. Whether you homeschool or send your children to school, there are costs involved. Preparing now will help you save hundreds of dollars. Here are my tips: First, shop at home. You probably have paper, pens, pencils, highlighters, and binders left over from previous years. These small items can add up to big savings on your school supply list. Try to wait for the big clearance sales that come in September. Search out the best prices for the most expensive items on your list like backpacks, sporting equipment, and technology. Across all shoppers, clothing and electronics account for more than $400 of the average family’s back-to-school outlay. You may actually find better prices as the sch ...

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Want to make a great impression and a great investment? Landscape your home.

A 2013 National Association of Realtors survey revealed that curb appeal is important to 71% of homebuyers. If a customer doesn’t like the front of the house, which includes landscaping, they may not go inside. Homeguides’ Cam Merritt says landscaping is one of the few home improvements you can make that not only adds instant impact but also increases in value as the years go by. Interior decor and design go out of style, appliances wear out, but quality plants grow fuller each year. A well landscaped home has a significant price advantage over a home without. That advantage ranges from 5.5% to 12.7% translating into an extra $16K to $38K in value on a $300,000 home. Where do you start? Hire a landscape designer or at least draw up a master plan for your yard. Do the research to avoid disappointments and unnecessary work for yourself. Limit the number of plants and consider the maintenance involved. Aim for simple elegance. According to "Money" magazine, even amateurs can get a ...

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Are retirement accounts and investments confusing to you?

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 401K 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 ca ...

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Are you being duped by advertisers?

In 1 John 15-16 the Apostle John instructed us to “not love the world nor the things in the world…. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” We are living in an age where companies are spending unbelievable amounts of money to cause us to desire the very things we have been warned to avoid. Advertisers have designed the availability of products and services to be as simple as a click away from your doorstep. Companies hoping to grab the attention of consumers bombard the public with millions of messages per day. According to Statista: The US, by far the largest advertising market in the world, spent more than $180 billion advertising in 2015. This figure is more than double the amount spent in China, the 2nd largest ad market in the world. Historically, television has been the biggest advertising medium in the United States but people are spending more & ...

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Want to get rid of car payments for good? Buy a Freedom Mobile.

Right now the average duration of a car loan is 5.5 years.  That means you are likely paying interest and in some cases, high interest, for more than 60 months. About a fourth of all new car loans today are considered sub-prime, meaning the borrower has a blemished credit score and is paying higher interest rates. If you are in that situation, here are a few ways to get out of this unnecessary expense. First, cut back on all other expenses so you can pull together about $1,500 cash.  Next, privately sell the car to get out from under the payments. Try to make some money or at a minimum break even. The goal is to fully pay off the loan.  Now that you have sold the newer car, paid off your loan and have your cash in hand, begin shopping for a reliable used car that will get you where you need to go for the least cost. You are not buying a fashion statement; you are buying transportation. With the booming demand for trucks and SUVs, you can get a good deal on a sedan, the typical 4-door car. ...

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Are you familiar with the term DIY?

It stands for Do It Yourself and it is the ultimate money-saving tool. It is a way to reward yourself financially and experience the satisfaction of completing a project on your own. Also, by engaging your children or grandchildren in the process you will instill in them the confidence to do likewise. In today’s world you can learn how to repair, install, or design about anything on your own. Tutorials are available everywhere. YouTube has video instructions at your fingertips. Just last week I replaced the hydraulic lifts on the rear door of my wife’s van. I watched a YouTube video, ordered the part on Amazon, installed it in six minutes and saved myself time at a dealership and lots of money. If you need to install a particular product, check out the manufacturer’s website help. Big box home improvement centers offer clinics for various projects. An hour invested at a clinic pays big when learning directly from a pro. Specialty shops have classes that demonstrate things from c ...

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Have you had your cup of coffee today?

Did you know Americans spend an average of $1100 annually for their coffee? According to Coffee Review, U.S. consumption is supposedly declining, BUT spending on coffee is soaring. This is due to the desire for gourmet coffees and the rapid growth of the single-serve coffee category in those little coffee pods. Consumers pay a significant premium per cup for this convenience.  Add to that the small but rapidly growing segment of informed coffee consumers who willingly pay premium prices for high quality coffees. To put it in perspective, of the roughly 100 million daily coffee drinkers in the United States, approximately one-third drink gourmet coffee. In their January 2015 article, Coffee Review magazine stated that gourmet coffees are more expensive than high-volume mid-market coffees with an average price of $38 per pound. The Specialty Coffee Association of America says that one pound of coffee makes 48 6-ounce cups of coffee. That comes to about 27 cents a cup.  Today the San ...

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