Stewardship

Learning and applying the biblical principles of managing the resources that God has given to us.

Battling the Brawny Budget Busters

Author:
June 11, 2014

Battling the Brawny Budget Busters by Deidre McClarin
 
How many times do you walk into a store to purchase something specific and you walk out with that and much more? More than likely you let your visual desires overpower your realistic needs.

Many times, I have walked into  a store to purchase an outfit for an event that  I plan to attend, and will walk out with the outfit-along with a few other articles of clothing that  just looked  good  on the mannequin. I would  tell myself, "that is sharp"..."that would go perfect with..." After merely a moment's hesitation, I look  on the rack for my size, grab it and move on. Before I know it I'm at the checkout counter paying for more "unnecessary" items that  I thought I wanted and really did not need.

This behavior not only pertains to the purchase of cloth­ing, but items we buy on a daily basis without even giving it a second thought. Ask yourself:How often do I purchase items without even asking yourself if I really need it? Overtime, the cost of these habitual purchases adds up and before you know it,you have spent a small fortune.The question becomes did you really need it to begin with?

God's word  says,"I know what it is to be in need,and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hunger)l whether living in plenty or in want" (Phil. 4:12 NIV). In order to be a good  steward over our finances and conquer those items that  send our bank  accounts southward, we must  prioritize  our needs and wants, as well as look  for alternate and  more sensible, or centsible, solutions. Below are a few suggestions  to consider when assessing how  to get (and keep) your budget  on track:

1.   Track your spending to see what your actual costs are over
a monthly  period,  as well as on an annual basis. You may be amazed by the total cost spent on items that  you thought were "insignificant." For instance,  a cup of coffee and a donut  at Dunkin' Donuts may only cost $2.50.That's $12.50 per week; $50 per month;
and $650 per year!

2. Eat at home. Reduce the number oftimes you eat out each week.The money spent on eating out adds up quickly. Before you know it, one meal at a local restaurant can cost a family of 4 approximately $50.Do you know how  many meals you can make
at home for less than $50?

3.  Pack a lunch. Instead of purchasing your lunch everyday, bring a lunch from home. Take leftovers from dinner the night before and minimize the amount  of food that you may potentially throw away due to spoilage.
4.   Reduce cable bill. Reduce the number of
movie channels/enhancements from your monthly cable bill. Do you really watch  all of those channels?  It may be cheaper to just rent a movie instead  of paying a monthly movie channel service fee.Remembe; you can rent movies from Red Box for $1!

5.   Bundle similar services. Consider  bundling your telephone, Internet and cable TV ser­vices to maximize your cost savings.

6.  Review household expenses. Examine the costs  you spend on maintaining your household, i.e., lawn maintenance, housekeeper, window  washers, etc. Consider  reducing the frequency of their use.

7.   Eliminate the health club membership.There are several less expensive alternatives to use for optimizing your  physi­ cal fitness. In fact, spend time this time working out with your  family.

8. Wash your car instead of taking it to the car wash. More and more families have
modified  their spending habits to align with  that of a weakened  economy and
have more money in the bag. As Chris­tians, we must also modify our spending behaviors  to be in alignment  with God's will."  For it is written,"And my God will met
all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ jesus" (Philippians 419  NIV).

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Remember, it is your story that helps others overcome the enemy.  What you share has the potential to not only impact someone's life, but their eternity. 

Burying Bad Financial Habits for Good

Author:
June 11, 2014

Burying Bad  Financial Habits for Good by Sherri Valentine
 
God cares about every aspect of our lives, including how we handle our finances. The truth is you can’t enjoy life to its fullest if you are buried under, and burdened with, financial strife.

Here are some essential principles that will help you bury bad financial habits for once and for all:

1)  Do not live beyond your means. While this may seem to be common sense, we know in today’s times, common sense is not so common. The bottom line is you’re in debt because you’ve lived beyond your means. You must decide to stop spending
money you don’t have. Living beyond your means is simply not God’s best for you.

2)  Pay off/get rid of  credit cards. Cash is king. Use it! If you “have to” use plastic, use a debit card. As you work to pay off your credit card debt,  you should pay off the smallest debt first to create the greatest momentum in getting rid of your debt.

3) Build a $1,000  emergency fund…fast! This beginning emergency fund will keep life’s little Murphies from turning into new debt while you work off the old debt. If a real emergency happens, you can handle it with your emergency fund. No more borrowing. It’s time to break the cycle of debt!

And here’s a bonus for the Shopaholics…

4) Go shopping in your own  closet. If you must scratch the shopping itch, go to your closet! You’d be surprised at the treasures you’ll find inside your closet when you take the time to explore. You may find items with tags on them, or clothes you can fit now because of your new commitment to working out (give Him glory!), or just items you had totally forgotten about or misplaced.

With determination, discipline, and faith, you have everything you need to throw the dirt on your old habits to make a new life for you and your family.

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Based on what you read above, let us know if this was helpful to you or share other thoughts that may help others.

 

8 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR DEALING WITH CREDIT CARD DEBT

Author:
June 11, 2014

8 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR DEALING WITH CREDIT CARD DEBT
Adapted from the sermon “Released…Practical Steps,” preached Sunday, July 17, 2011 by Pastor Smokie Norful.

1. Realize and accept that your life doesn’t have to be this way.
2. Stop the blame game.
3. Stop segregating your money.
4. Don’t use an equityline to pay off consumer debt.
5. Start from the lowest to the highest balance (snowball effect).
6.  Make micro-payments.
7.  Deter/Delay/Deny card use!
8.  Consider other revenue streams and MAKE SACRIFICES.
 
Top 10 Reasons People Use for Credit Card Spending

1.  “I owe it to myself.”
2.  “It’s on sale.” (I’m saving)
3.  “We’ve got the credit.”
4.  “I don’t have the cash on me, but I need this now.”
5.  “We’ll pay it off with our tax refund.”
6.  “Web sites and/or others only take credit cards.”
7.  “I need it for car rentals and hotels.”
8.  “We don’t have any debt now we can afford to splurge a little.”
9.  “I felt led to buy it.” (implying by God)
10. “We’ll pay it off at the end of the month.”

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Based on what you read above, let us know if this was helpful to you or share other thoughts that may help others.

How to Restore Your Credit Score

Author:
April 03, 2014

Understanding your credit score and how it is determined can significantly help you when taking steps towards improving that score. Your credit score, which is also known as your FICO score, is calculated to predict how much of a risk you are as a borrower. The FICO score is able to provide lenders with a general overview of what type of history you have with credit, what type of payer you are, and what are the odds
you are going to repay their money.

1. Know and Understand Your Credit Score. The credit score is made up by the following:

Payment History – 35%

Total Amounts Owed – 30%

Length of Credit History – 15%

New Credit – 10%

Type of Credit in Use – 10%

As seen in the list above, the bulk of the credit score is determined primarily by payment history, total amounts owed, and how long you have been managing your credit.

2. Pay Your Bills on Time. To improve your score, get into the habit of making your payments on time. Payments made 30 days or more after the due date are considered late payments and will tell the potential lender you have a history of paying late. Late payments reduce your score and ultimately create a negative impact. This history will generally stay on your report for at least seven years.  To avoid this type of negative impact, if you find you are unable to make your payments on time, contact the lender to
see what your options are. Most lenders offer the opportunities to make alternative arrangements, dates, or even partial payments. Just do what you can to be on time, and it you find that you are not able to, do what you can to work out an alternative solution with the lender. The key is to communicate with the lender!

3. Keep Debt Under Control. Debt-to-income ratio is important for controlling your debt load. Debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of monthly gross income that goes towards paying debts. These debts include, but are not limited to, recurring loan payments, credit cards, rent or mortgage payments, utility expenses, taxes, insurance premiums, or any ongoing financial obligation. Debt and expenses beyond 36% percent of your income is considered to be beyond acceptable limits and can affect your credit
negatively.

Reduce the balances on any existing credit that have high balances. For example, if you have an outstanding credit balance of $2,000 and the maximum limit for the term of that credit line is $2,500, maintaining high outstanding balances can also negatively impact your credit score.

4. Accentuate the Positive. Keeping accounts that are in good standing open can be to your advantage when restoring credit history. Your credit score can be impacted more negatively if you close an old account that is in good standing rather than keeping it open. Reason being, this account will show in the point system as good activity that is open or active with a zero or low balance.

Tip: The simple truth is that no one can legally remove accurate negative information from a credit report. Credit reporting agencies are obligated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information, usually within 30 days.  They are not required to remove accurate information unless it is more than seven years old (or bankruptcies that are over ten years old). You have the right to dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit report-- and the credit reporting agency must investigate the dispute without charge to you.  Everything a credit repair organization can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost.

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