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.


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:

  1. Leave your money in your former employer's plan, if your former employer permits it.
  2. Roll over your money to a new 401(k) plan, if this option is available.
  3. Roll over your money to a Traditional IRA.
  4. Roll over your money to a Roth IRA.
  5. 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.


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.


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. 


Baywatch Bummer – Lessons from Divorce Issues

Originally posted at Christian Post July 15, 2016.

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

 Dear Chuck,

I saw recently that the former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff headed to court to try and challenge the judicial order to pay his ex-wife $21K a month in alimony. I’ve read his assets went from $1.2 million in the bank to $600 after his divorce. What happened here, and how can I avoid this kind of financial fall?

Bummed for Baywatch Star.

Dear Bummed,

After decades of being known as “the most watched man on TV,” actor David Hasselhoff said in legal documents that his finances are a disaster, telling the court that his monthly expenses are $72,415 a month, including $21K in alimony to ex-wife Pamela Bach, and more than $18K a month going to support his two adult children who live with him. He’s asking the court for some relief, including an end to the alimony payments from the breakup of his marriage in 2006.

There is a lot for all of us to learn from this tragic story.

Famous, infamous, or unknown to the world, it is best to work to stay married because divorce is disastrous for everyone. And it’s been that way from the very beginning. In Matthew 19, the Bible records this exchange between Jesus and religious leaders of the day on the subject of marriage.


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.


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.


Do you lack discipline in your finances?

I once met a business executive who earned nearly $200,000 a year and was constantly under financial stress.  The irony of the story is that he had an undergraduate degree in accounting, a Masters in business administration, and worked as the Chief Financial Officer for a large company.  He was an outstanding professional at managing other people’s money, but not his own.  Now hear me, he was not a bad person. In fact, he was a sincere Christian, but he lacked discipline to manage his own finances and thus spent more than he earned. No matter how much his income increased, he spent more. 

Charles Dickens made this famous quote about money: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."  Translated it means that if you spend a little below your income you are happy and slightly more than your income you are miserable.  


You may be on vacation, but it is a good time to evaluate your career.

Chuck Bentley on 7/11/16 8:00 AM


Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23 - “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Are you working at your job with ALL your heart?  Because you spend a large part of your time at work, it’s important to be highly motivated on the job. If you’re miserable in your current job or if you’re looking for a new job, here are some tips to help you deal with job-related conflict and transition.

First, all of your skills, talents, and even your promotions come from God, so trust Him to be in charge of your career. “But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another” (Psalm 75:7 NIV).


Can You Recover from Mistakes At Work?

Originally posted at Christian Post July 08, 2016.

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

Dear Chuck, 

I’m embarrassed to say that I really messed up at work. I’m not sure what to do next, and I’m wondering how to win back the good will of my employer. Is it possible to resurrect a reputation at work? 

Weeping over Work

Dear Weeping, 

The answer is yes! You certainly can recover from terrible mistakes at work. In fact, it is an opportunity to improve not only your reputation, but also your overall work relationships. 

Rest assured, no one is perfect. Find me a person who has never made a mistake on the job, and I’ll show you a person who has never held a job. We are all vulnerable to errors and misjudgments. 



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