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Let’s talk about your net worth as you approach retirement

Chuck Bentley on 9/26/16 9:20 AM

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About 86% of Americans have a positive net worth. The US Census Bureau reports that the average American under age 35 is worth about $6,500 including their home equity. This grows to $85,000 for those between age 45-54 and peaks at about $195,000 for those aged 65-69. But here is a very important point. From age 70 on, the average net worth begins to decrease. 

If you exclude home equity from the net worth calculation, then the median net worth drops significantly across all age groups. For example, the median net worth for a person age 70 to 74 years drops to only $31,823 when home equity isn't included.

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Tips not to Trip over your Tongue at Work

Originially posted on the Christian Post on September 23.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck, 

I’m trying to fit in to a new workplace, and I’m on the outside of a lot of the conversations and office gossip. I want to join in, but sometimes the talk gets so hurtful or goes a direction I just don’t want to follow. Does the Bible have anything to say about how to talk to people in my office? 

Tongue Tied

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Are you growing in generosity?

Chuck Bentley on 9/22/16 8:00 AM

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The average American gives $150/month to charitable causes. That equates to 3% of their take home pay.  If the Christians earning this same total income were to actually tithe, giving would increase to $575/month. 

When it comes to giving a number of verses are very motivating for me: One is Proverbs 3:9.  In the New Living Translation it says, “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”

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Ever heard of a family bank?

Chuck Bentley on 9/21/16 8:00 AM

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My friend, David McAlvany, writes in his new book, The Intentional Legacy,  “The secret to preserving family wealth over the generations is the soft structure. Well planned and executed soft structures are systems designed to build family identity and loyalty, while blessing heirs, including those yet to be born.”  David points out that the concept of a family bank is one outgrowth of these soft structures.

Bill and Will Bonner, authors of a book on the topic of family wealth, Family Fortunes: How to Build Family Wealth and Hold onto it for 100 years, believe that a family bank is a great idea to assist family members with education, home purchases, business ventures, health care or assistance to their widowed and disabled. Although they are not legal entities in the same governance as a public bank, this bank should have agreed upon policies for deposits, withdrawals, loans and repayments.

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When was the last time you rewarded yourself for making financial progress?

Chuck Bentley on 9/20/16 8:00 AM

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Now the Lord clearly understands we are all motivated by rewards.  In fact, the entire Christian life holds out the promise of the reward of eternal life. Further, in Matthew 6, He promises to reward us openly for praying in secret, giving in secret and fasting in secret.  So we should use our natural desire for rewards to set up a system where we establish a personal perk that is attached to a financial goal. 

Let’s start with the basics.  How would it feel to have $1,000 in an Emergency Savings Account just sitting there anytime you get an unexpected bill or the water heater goes out or the car won’t start? Just a little fact: If you have $1,000 in an Emergency Savings Account, not in a retirement plan or invested in the stock market, but actual cash sitting in an account that you can get your hands on immediately as needed, you will be better off than one-half of the population.

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Do you think God can do anything?

Chuck Bentley on 9/19/16 8:00 AM

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If you are facing a challenging financial time right now, the best place to turn for help is to God and trust that He can do anything. Here is why. 

Do you remember the problem Jacob had when he went to stay with his Uncle Laban? He had to work as an unpaid shepherd for fourteen years before he was given permission to marry Rachel. (You don’t have it as bad as your thought, do you?)

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Interview the Interviewer for your Dream Job

Originially posted on the Christian Post on September 16.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck, 

With great jobs so scarce, I get nervous going into an interview. I’m not sure how to prepare or what to say to stand out from the crowd. What do you recommend? 

Desperately Seeking Employment 

Dear Desperately,

Take a deep breath. You can do this! There is hope, so fight off that sense of desperation.

It's true that jobs are scarce and that it can be stressful to face an interviewer. With so much on the line, you are likely feeling the pressure of the process; but you’re not in this alone. Proverbs 19:21 observes, “Many are the plans of the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Yet interviewing is a skill, and all skills require practice to improve. Let me give you a few steps to help. 

Step One: Get yourself in the right frame of mind. Begin this process by understanding that God is with you, and that if you get a NO in an interview, that God may just be protecting you from a bad situation or preparing you for something better.

Ask the Lord for the job that will best glorify Him and meet your needs at this point in your career. It’s important to remember that for the most part, each job is a stepping-stone to the next level, and that God is directing your steps. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

By resting in the knowledge that you are depending upon the Sovereign God of the Universe, it will relieve the pressure of thinking you have to fight for a job on your own. Pray and rest in that knowledge ahead of time, and get a good night’s sleep before the interview, too!

Step Two: Do your homework. Know whom you are going to talk to about a job – both corporately and individually. An employer is looking for someone who can make his or her life easier and assist the company in achieving its goals. Take time to learn about the company and its leadership ahead of time, including talking to people who work there if you can. See what you can find out about the person conducting your interview as well. Ephesians 6:13 remind us to put on the full armor of God “having prepared everything, to take your stand.” Get ready to stand before the interviewer, armed with knowledge of the company and whom you are hoping to impress is an important way to reduce your stress and show you are a serious candidate.

Step Three: Know yourself.  Understand your gifts and talents so that you can identify how you are a good fit for the team, how your knowledge and skills will help the company. Be able to give specifics, not just a guess.  II Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed.”

You have skills to offer, things you’ve studied, strengths and a willingness to learn. It’s a mistake to ask the interviewer to explain how you might fit in, so be prepared to shine when the opportunity arises to share your pitch for why you want the job.  

Step Four: Reverse the questions and be prepared to do your own interview by asking meaningful, well-researched questions. An interview is an exchange of information, the first that you may be having with your future employer. It’s important to be able to talk directly with a prospective employer about everything from salary to benefits to expectations for a project, in a calm and professional way.

Recently, I read an excellent article in Forbes titled “10 Job Interview Questions You Should Ask,” identifying some great conversation starters for an interview – allowing you to take a breath during the questioning and to consider the environment and culture of the organization that you would be entering.

The questions includedWhat skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate? (Allowing you to see how your skills measure up); What constitutes success at this position and this firm or nonprofit? (Allowing you to learn more about how your work will be judged); Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? (Giving you a chance to tackle any perceived weaknesses in your resume); or Who previously held this position? (Allowing you to learn if you’re walking into a war zone depending on how that person left.)

I would add to that list of questions a few others like: Tell me more about the corporate culture of your company? What is the average length of time your employees work for the company? What do long-term employees say is their favorite reason for working here? What do they hope will be improved at this company? Is there a training program to help me be successful in this position?  These questions will give you great insight about the job opportunity and send a message that you are looking for a good fit, not just a paycheck.

We hire lots of folks at Crown and often do team interviews to try to make the very best decision we can when we have multiple candidates for the same position.  In those settings, if all qualifications are equal, we are looking for people who align with our values, who are able to connect on a personal level with members of our team and demonstrate a desire to contribute more than just the minimum requirements to the job. Smile, laugh, be yourself. Show your heart. God will open the right doors.

Keep us posted on your job search! We are praying for the right job to open up soon!

To #Ask Chuck @AskCrown your own question, click here:

 

Chuck Bentley is the CEO of Crown, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late, Larry Burkett. He is an author, host of My MoneyLife, a daily radio feature, and a columnist for the Christian Post and a well-known speaker. Follow Crown @CrownUpdates For interviews or speaking requests contact media@crown.org

 

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Would you like to be financially free? Today, I will tell you how that is possible.

Chuck Bentley on 9/15/16 8:00 AM

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To be financially free requires two character qualities. The first is learning to be faithful and the other is learning to be disciplined. 

Luke 16:10-11 teaches us that God expects us to be faithful in small matters if we are to be trusted with bigger matters. In other words, trust or trustworthiness is the currency that God deals in. He wants to find those whose hearts are guided by integrity, honesty and absolute dependability when it comes to doing the right thing. And if you are not faithful in the smallest of your financial affairs, you will remain in financial bondage.

The other characteristic to be financially free is to be disciplined. Just as the body requires we are disciplined in our exercise and eating to be healthy so it is with our finances. We must exercise self-control when it comes to our work habits and our spending habits.

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Today, my list of the five things I don’t think you should use debt to purchase…

Chuck Bentley on 9/14/16 8:00 AM

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We live in a culture where debt is assumed to be essential for everything. The Bible tells us that the borrower is a slave to the lender so we should be vigilant in our efforts to avoid becoming financial slaves.  Here are the things I would not use debt to purchase:

  • A car. Financing something that immediately depreciates in value is a bad idea because of the risk of owing more than it is worth. Lenders now offer packages up to 6 or 7 years for a car… not a house… a car. It is far better to save the cash and buy one that gets you to where you need to go without paying a penny of interest.
  • A college education: Nothing against going to college, but the average student now graduates with $37,000 in student loan debt. That is crazy. Find ways to go without borrowing money.
  • It is tempting to splurge here and pay for a dream vacation using your credit cards. You will have far less stress by getting creative and paying cash for a vacation you can afford.
  • 2nd mortgages: Borrowing against your home equity is something I would not do because of the undue risk you are taking. Even borrowing to update the house should be avoided.
  • Consumer purchases like clothes, electronics, or furniture. It is far better not to have store accounts, or buy these things using a credit card. Cash is the way to go.

Right now go to Crown.org and take our free MoneyLife Indicator assessment. It will immediately identify areas where you can focus to begin making progress.  Our ministry is here to offer hope and tools to all who are interested in getting out of financial bondage with God’s help. Learn more at crown.org

 

Chuck Bentley is the CEO of Crown, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late, Larry Burkett. He is an author, host of My MoneyLife - a daily radio feature, and a frequent speaker on the topic of Biblical financial principles. Follow him on Twitter @chuckbentley and visit Crown.org for more help.

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I hate scams, especially this one!

Chuck Bentley on 9/13/16 8:00 AM

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Now this one has not happened to anyone in our family, but since I have a son in college, I was glad to learn about it so we can have our guard up. 

According to John Wasik who writes a blog for Forbes on financial scams, “This latest scam has crooks calling families or students to warn them about paying a ‘federal student tax.’”

Now, to be clear…there is no such thing and nobody owes a student tax.

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