Spring Cleaning for Your Finances


 

 

Spring Cleaning for Your Finances

 

 

As the temperatures climb and the days grow longer, many people start

Finance

Finance (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

thinking about “spring cleaning.” It’s time to wipe away the cobwebs of the
winter and welcome in the sunshine and warmth of spring.

Spring is a time of new beginnings, and this doesn’t just apply to our homes. It can also apply to our finances. Many people make the New Year’s resolution to get on a budget or to better manage their money, but most resolutions are forgotten after a few months.

Spring is a great time to get back into that groove of biblical money management.  When spring cleaning your home, you take a close look at those things that need cleaning or updating. Do the same with your finances.

Take a close look at your budget. Assess your present spending and look for areas that need adjusting. After the spending frenzy of the holidays is over, you can get a better idea of how much you actually spend each month. Keep track of your spending for 30 days and then use the Crown Spending Plan Calculator to make a budget. (Learn more about starting a budget here.)

 

 

As you are spring cleaning your home, you may find items that you no
longer need or that are outdated. As you are tracking your spending, you
may find the same applies to your budget. Assess spending for cable,
Internet, and phone service. Ask yourself if you really need all the
services you are paying for or if you could bundle your services or find
a better deal that would be cheaper.

Do you pay for a daily or weekly newspaper but hardly ever read it? Perhaps you could read the news online and cancel your delivery subscription. Save money on food by eating out less. Use coupons at the grocery store and use a weekly menu for meal planning.

 

 

Also, take a good inventory of your debt. Are you paying a high
interest rate on a credit card? Could you find a card with a lower
interest rate and transfer your balance? Also, look for areas in your
budget where you can cut back on spending and use the extra to pay off
those credit cards. Buy off debt faster by using a rollover plan to pay off your credit cards. Debt is an extra burden that we shouldn’t have to carry.

 

 

Need to generate some extra income? Look around your home for things
you can sell. Outgrown or outdated clothing items, sports or exercise
equipment, electronics, CDs, DVDs, old furniture, baby items, and
kitchen items usually have good resale value. Collect these items, clean
them up, and have a yard sale. Put ALL of the profits toward paying off
debt or funding your emergency account. You will generate extra income and free yourself of things that can clutter your home.

 

 

The final step in spring cleaning your finances is to get organized.
Misplaced bills can cost you late fees. Develop a good filing system to
keep up with your incoming bills and other important financial
information. Use products like the Bill Organizer to keep track or try using an online bill paying service. Crown Mvelopes and Crown Money Map Financial Software are great ways to track your spending online.

 

 

Before you know it, your spending plan will be running smoothly, and you will be on your way to true financial freedom.

 

 

by Crown Financial Ministries

 

 

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If you would like to have Crown Financial in your church or organization for a seminar or workshop, or if you would like to order Crown resources, contact Crown Associate, Brian Raines,  at brianraines@bellsouth.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symptoms of Financial Problems


Symptoms of Financial Problems

A credit card, the biggest beneficiary of the ...

Without question, family financial problems seem to increase dramatically during economic slumps. Are the financial problems caused by economic slumps? Generally not.

With rare exception, family financial problems have begun long before the economic slumps, perhaps as early as childhood.

Ignoring God’s Word
Usually families with financial problems only recognize the symptoms of the problems (such as unpaid bills) or the consequences of the symptoms (such as repossession of property). They seldom identify the real underlying cause of the problem.

Most of the symptoms of financial problems that families face in today’s society—business failures, foreclosures, bankruptcies, out-of-control debt, two-job families, and divorce—can be traced to a central problem of ignoring God’s financial principles as recorded in His Word.

It is likely that the problem was learned from parents who also had the same problems. “Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth” (Deuteronomy 28:1).

God’s financial principles and instructions are not complicated or hard to understand. They were designed to free His people from financial burdens and not to bind them with an unattainable set of dos and don’ts.

Unfortunately, though, since the mid-1950s God’s principles have increasingly been ignored by families who have adopted a get-rich-quick mentality by using easily obtainable credit to purchase “what I want, when I want it.”

The children of these 1950s and 1960s parents learned to buy on credit from their parents’ example.

Now, a generation later, we are reaping the burden of sown seeds of moderate debt in the form of overwhelming excessive debt.

It was Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), Earl of Beaconsfield, who said in an address before the British House of Commons on May 1, 1865, “What we do and allow in moderation, our children will allow and do in excess.” What better words can describe the primary cause of the downward financial spiral of families in our society?

Without a doubt, the lack of financial discipline in parents is reflected and amplified in the lives of their children and their children’s families.

Symptoms of financial problems
If parents do not operate on a budget, seldom will the children.

If parents use credit readily and make buying decisions based on the ability to make monthly payments, rather than on the initial price of items purchased, so will the children.

Once married and on their own, young couples attempt to duplicate in a few years what perhaps has taken their parents decades to accumulate. In order to accomplish that goal, they use credit, as they were taught.

Before long they have numerous assets, but the assets are all tied up in liabilities.

This debt burden causes many of these young couples to experience the following symptoms.

They no longer can pay the monthly bills. Once the credit cards have reached their maximum limits and other sources of readily available credit begin to tighten, financial pressure begins to build. Finally, in desperation, a bill consolidation loan is obtained. Usually within less than a year the credit card debts return, making the end result worse than the beginning.

More income is needed. More credit cannot be the answer, so logic says that more money is needed. Consequently, the wife usually has to go to work. When young children are involved, the result may be breakeven or less.

Buy to pacify the pressure. At this stage many Christian families try to pacify the financial pressures by buying something new or going on a “get away from it all” vacation. However, these usually have to be financed with credit, so again the end is worse than the beginning.

Divorce and/or bankruptcy. When financial pressure reaches the boiling point, with no apparent way out, either the couple takes it out on one another—resulting in divorce—or they file for protection under the bankruptcy laws in order to start over again. However, if God’s principles were not learned during the process, the same financial problems will be present in the second or third marriage or after the discharge of bankruptcy.

Preventive measures
Although symptoms of financial problems can be devastating, it is much easier for families to practice prevention rather than recuperation.

As such, there are four basic preventive measures that families can exercise to counterbalance unbiblical financial practices and to prevent the symptoms of financial problems.

Abstain from borrowing. “The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives” (Psalm 37:21). Scripture clearly indicates that borrowing is not God’s best for His people and should never be used as a routine part of financial planning.

Saving. “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up” (Proverbs 21:20). In today’s society, spending and borrowing are promoted, and saving—in order to purchase with cash—is discouraged. It is more in keeping with God’s principles to save for future needs and purchases than to borrow or use credit.

Making hasty decisions. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but every one who is hasty comes surely to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). Patience and consistency, rather than quick decisions and instant success, are the ways to financial security. One of the best disciplines parents can teach their children is to work to reach a goal.

Develop a budget. “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored” (Proverbs 13:18). Children should learn by parents’ examples how to develop and live on a balanced budget. If they don’t, chances are when the children have families of their own, they will continue with the cycle of debt.

Conclusion
If Christian families truly lived by sound biblical financial principles, they would not only be lights to show the way to financial freedom for their friends and acquaintances, but their children would grow up with the knowledge of God’s principles and how those principles should be used.

They in turn would pass on to their children what they were taught. With consistent teaching and discipline it would take less than a generation to break Christians’ financial bondage and free them to fund the work of the Lord.

 

Getting Out of Debt


With home mortgages, school loans, and car loans, young couples today may

Wipe our Debt

Wipe our Debt (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

owe more than $140,000 within the first couple of years of marriage. This may seem normal to many, but God’s Word says debt isn’t normal, especially long-term debt (see Deuteronomy 15:6; Psalm 37:21; Romans 13:8).

Become debt free

If you’re already in debt, you can break the debt cycle with desire, discipline, and time. Using these five basic steps you can become debt free and stay that way.

  1. Transfer ownership
    God forces His will on no one; you must willingly surrender your will and possessions to God. Prayerfully transfer ownership of every possession to God – money, job, time, material possessions, family, education, and future earning potential (see Psalm 8:6).
  2. Give the Lord His part
    Once you’ve transferred ownership to God, give Him the first part, the tithe of gross income. If you withhold from God, it indicates that ownership hasn’t been transferred. Give Him freedom to work unobstructed on behalf of your finances – give Him the tithe – and He can give us His best.
  3. Allow no more debt
    Don’t use any more credit or credit cards until all existing debt has been paid. Pay with cash, check, or debit card at the time of purchase. Don’t borrow any more money from institutions, family, or friends until all indebtedness (home mortgage excepted) has been satisfied.
  4. Develop a realistic budget
    You’ll need a written budget that allocates percentages of Net Spendable Income into living expense categories – including repayment of creditors. Write to each creditor with a repayment proposal, but promise only what can be paid every month. Include a financial statement and budget that shows how much will be paid to each creditor.

    If you need to generate extra funds by working overtime or on an extra job, all money generated by the extra work must go to eliminate the debt for this to be effective.

  5. Retire the debt
    Pay extra on the debts with the highest interest rates. If all interest rates are comparable, begin paying extra on the smallest balance. After that debt has been paid, apply the regular payment as well as the extra money that was going to it toward the next highest balance. After the second is paid off, then the third highest and so forth.

Conclusion
No one who is financially bound can be spiritually free. Generally speaking, if these steps are faithfully followed, the average family can usually be debt free in about five years.

Accomplishing debt freedom can produce a radical change in lifestyle and a reevaluation of family values that can help prevent similar debt situations from recurring.

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Brian Raines was a Senior Financial Advisor with an international firm for fourteen years. He is now the President of PHP Financial, a division of The Raines Organization, Inc., and an associate with Crown Financial Ministries. To schedule a no-obligation consultation with Brian, contact him via e-mail at brianraines@bellsouth.net