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Did you know that you are a very generous person already?

We are all very generous. In fact, we are born that way.  We are naturally very generous towards ourselves. Now that is often called selfishness but Satan deceives us into believing it is a good thing and that we deserve to have the best the world has to offer.

The primary goal of income is not for my personal benefit alone. Yes, we must work to take care of our families and ourselves but we must also overcome selfishness. The Bible is very clear that we are to share our resources with those around us. In Acts 20:35, Paul notes, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

Giving to support God’s kingdom, grow the Church and to help others should be one of our top financial priorities. A paraphrase of Acts 20:35 is simply – Giving is good for you! It is to our personal advantage to learn to give, not to ourselves, but to others.

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Are you Debt-stitute?

You read that correctly – I did not ask if you were destitute. My question is: Are you debt-stitute – meaning are you suffering from fear, worry and stress caused by excessive debt?

A report from the Pew Charitable Trust found that 8 in 10 Americans are in debt (including mortgages), with about 40 percent holding credit card debt. 

The best-case scenario is to never have any consumer debt. That is debt that is not backed by an asset to support the payoff of the debt.  According to the Pew report, 40% of Americans are carrying consumer debt.

In a healthy budget, consumer debt takes up only five percent of income because as debt goes up, options go down.

Proverbs 22:7 notes, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”

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Do you know the condition of your finances right now?

With almost 8 in 10 people saying they never or rarely balance their check books, it can come as no surprise that organizing finances is few people’s passion.  But it is never a waste of time to improve your financial skills because it will most certainly reduce your stress.

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that money and work are the leading causes of stress in America (at 67 percent and 65 percent respectively) regardless of income.  For those looking to increase their skills, there’s no better place to begin than the Bible. Let me explain.

A good financial plan begins with knowing your financial condition.  When it comes to money -- ignorance is NOT bliss. Ignoring how much you are spending or being unaware of where your money is going will not alter painful realities. It’s important to know where your money is, where it is going and whether you are breaking even, going backward or getting ahead.

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Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

Originally posted at Christian Post May 20, 2016.

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,

My spouse and I find that talking about our finances is so stressful, we would rather just avoid the topic altogether. We sort of go our separate ways, but try to avoid things like debt, and we agree on tithing. But I wonder if we would be doing better as a couple if we could really talk about money. How can we tackle an uncomfortable topic?

Married and Mum on Money Talks

 

Dear Married,

You are certainly not alone as millions of couples find talking about their finances a very difficult and painful topic. But it is a topic that cannot be avoided. You’ve heard the phrase “talk is cheap,” but the truth is NOT talking about money decisions can be very expensive when you’re married and trying to live happily ever after.

In fact, a study from Kansas State University found that arguments about money were the best indicator of divorce – more than conflicts over child rearing, sex, in-laws or any traditional areas of tension. I believe that being on the same page with your spouse on financial issues is one of the keys to a strong marriage.

Harmonious communication is key because your financial future depends on working together toward mutual goals. Since we all bring different beliefs, methodologies and goals into our marriage, a helpful first step is to seek to understand where your spouse stands on these issues.

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Is money causing you terrible stress?

I received a very biting, critical email from a listener recently.  He felt he was doing all he could to care for and provide for his family and believed I had spoken judgmentally about him and folks in his financial situation.  While I didn’t totally agree with his conclusions, his email made me more sensitive to the terrible financial stress he was experiencing.

“The American Psychological Association reported in a 2014 survey that 54% of Americans said they had just enough or not enough money each month to meet their expenses – The study found money to be the country’s No. 1 stressor. 72% of adults reported feeling stressed about money at least some of the time, and nearly a quarter rated their stress ‘extreme’”.

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Today, some startling statistics about Middle Class America

Neal Gabler, a professional journalist wrote a gripping article in The Atlantic magazine called, The Silent Shame of the American Middle Class

Neal Gabler, a professional journalist wrote a gripping article in The Atlantic magazine called, The Silent Shame of the American Middle Class. Here are some of his key statistics:

  • 25% of families making $100,000 to $150,000 can’t find $2,000 in a pinch. Their lifestyle gives all the appearance of affluence, but they have no margin for emergencies or unexpected expenses.
  • 30% of Americans are not saving for retirement. Zero. Many others are saving very little.
  • 65% of Americans 25 to 65 are financially illiterate.
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More on the financial frailty of the American Middle Class

Neal Gabler, a professional journalist wrote a gripping article in The Atlantic magazine called, The Silent Shame of the American Middle Class. I had our staff read it and share their insights with me.  Here are some of their takeaways from the article:

  • Of all the problems a person can have in our society we will forgive almost anything, understand people seeking help for addictions, but being a ‘financial loser’ is a scarlet letter in our society. The stigma associated with it is that you are dumb, unsuccessful, lazy, etc. In a society that exalts success, personal value is measured by “things" thus this failure is worst of all.
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$400 is a major problem for a huge part of the American population.

“The federal reserve board has conducted a survey to ‘monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers. ’ Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth shattering. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars!”

Neal Gabler, a professional journalist shared this statistic in a gripping article in The Atlantic magazine called, The Silent Shame of the American Middle Class.

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When should Helicopter Parents Fly Away?

Chuck Bentley on 5/13/16 9:45 AM

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Originally posted at Christian Post May 13, 2016.

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’ve been reading about helicopter parenting, where parents hover over their children trying to control almost every aspect of their children’s lives to get “the right” outcome compared to so-called “Free Range” parents who are hands off, and then of course we’ve all seen stories of parental neglect, where parents don’t care much at all. How does someone find the happy medium? As my kids are getting older and preparing for college, I worry in particular that they are not ready to handle money, which can be very complicated, and I’d like to be involved in their financial decisions. How do I parent my kids about handling money without getting in the way of important life lessons?

Perplexed Parent

Dear Perplexed,

Let me commend you right up front for understanding an important truth – sometimes children need to learn from failure, and sometimes they need to experience unpleasant consequences to instill in them hard but important truths. The current controversies surrounding Helicopter parenting, to my mind, involve a misunderstanding over the need to adjust as children grow older. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, for everything there is a season … a time to be very closely supervising, standing ready to rescue your children (Helicopter parenting) and a time to fly away to let kids figure out a few things on their own.

Young children need an appropriate amount of hovering, for their safety and to learn the basics of life. According to the Bible, the best way to teach your children the truth about the world we live in is to share God’s word with them as you spend time together. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses tells the young nation of Israel that parents are responsible for passing on the most important lessons: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

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Putting God’s Word into action will bless your life.

I have four boys. Two of them are grown and out of the house now.  Years ago, when one of my sons was 16, he took it upon himself to not only read the Proverbs but to take it a step further. He used a legal pad to write down each individual proverb and then put his understanding of that verse into his own words noting how it could apply to his life. It was a remarkable effort for a teenager.  

The very day he finished this effort, he showed the thick legal pad to his mother and me right before bed. We congratulated him, prayed together and kissed him goodnight.  It was less than 15 minutes later and he was back, standing at our bedroom door looking a little wide eyed.  We asked if something was wrong. He said, “No, but I think I just had an encounter with the Holy Spirit.”   Obviously we were curious so we asked him to explain. 

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