Can the IRS Help You Fund Your Christmas Budget?

Friday's Handwriting on the Wall posts will feature Chuck's new column, Ask Chuck. Chuck will be answering questions about what the the Bible has to say about money. Please share on #financialfridays and submit your own questions here. @AskCrown

Originally posted at Christian Post November 27, 2015.

Dear Chuck,

I’m worried about how to cover the costs of Christmas. I know I should have been saving through the year, and I have some money set aside but do you have some suggestions on how to get some resources together to have more money available over the holidays?

A Concerned Mother


Dear Concerned Mom,

You’re not the only one thinking through how to make the best of the holidays. In fact, more than 90 percent of Americans will celebrate Christmas or another holiday this season, and many of us feel pressure to appropriately provide gifts for those we love. According to a recent Gallup poll, people are planning to spend an average of $830 this year on Christmas gifts. In an ideal world, that would mean that most of us would have set aside  $75 a month to be ready to go at the end of November when a lot of sales begin.

It’s important to start your shopping list with a clear plan and budget that you develop, as retailers will work hard to convince you to do more than you initially were comfortable purchasing. Retailers make about 20 percent of their annual profits at this time of year, so be careful to buy purposefully and avoid the glitter and pressures of the season!


Its Thanksgiving Day!

Chuck Bentley on 11/26/15 7:00 AM


Its Thanksgiving Day! 

In early autumn of 1621, the 53 surviving Pilgrims celebrated their successful harvest, as was the English custom.

That celebration is remembered as the "First Thanksgiving in Plymouth." There are only two primary source descriptions of the events of the fall of 1621. Here’s one of them. In his book Mourt’s Relation, Edward Winslow writes:


Do you know someone caught up in the predatory lending trap?

Chuck Bentley on 11/25/15 7:00 AM


The Washington Post reported on this major problem of predatory lending. These are typically small loans aimed at unsophisticated borrowers that include payday loans secured against a borrower's paycheck, title loans typically secured against a vehicle, or an open-end loan establishing a line of credit.

"Borrowers typically need no more than a checking account and a steady source of income to qualify. This makes the loans particularly attractive for people with poor credit who would not qualify through a bank or credit union." 

Most of these loans carry outrageous interest rates…up to 300% a year. 


Are you trying to achieve your financial goals all alone?

Chuck Bentley on 11/24/15 7:00 AM


Many people set financial goals and struggle to keep them because they are trying to do it all themselves.

I refer you to Solomon who long ago gave us this helpful advice in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

So what do you need to do to have that cord of three strands?


Are there hidden reasons you may be spending too much?

Chuck Bentley on 11/23/15 7:00 AM


The Wall Street Journal published an article with research suggesting we tend to spend too much for less than obvious reasons.  I thought it contained some worthwhile insights.

First, the research found that many folks are terrible at estimating future expenses, which leads us to believe we can afford a house or a car that is actually too costly.

Second, the study found folks have a tendency to overspend to reward themselves particularly during periods of stress.

Third, researchers found that unhappy people save less, spend more and tend to have a higher propensity to consume, while happy people exhibit the opposite characteristics. Interestingly, the study recommends that people actually wait until they are in a better mood to make financial decisions.


My Two Cents on 50 Cent - Are You Making the Same Mistakes as the Rapper?

Chuck Bentley on 11/20/15 7:06 PM


Friday's Handwriting on the Wall posts will feature Chuck's new column, Ask Chuck. Chuck will be answering questions about what the the Bible has to say about money. Please share on #financialfridays and submit your own questions here. @AskCrown

Originally posted at Christian Post November 20, 2015.

Dear Chuck,

So many celebrities make millions of dollars, and then end up in bankruptcy. There are lots of headlines right now about the Rapper “50 Cent,” Curtis James Jackson III, who the Wall Street Journal says has assets worth more than $24 million but he says he’s broke and filed bankruptcy. If he can’t make it, how can someone like me make it with so much less money?

- Struggling in the heartland.

Dear Struggling,

Most of us have heard the phrase “Fake it ‘til you Make it,” but that advice really is disastrous. Proverbs 12:9 says, “Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.”

According to media reports, 50 Cent (also known as Curtis James Jackson III) lived the life of a high profile music star, getting famous for his bling, becoming well-known for an album and movie titled "Get Rich or Die Tryin'."

But what people saw wasn’t real, according to the artist, who is now in bankruptcy court testifying that all the luxury that he flashed in videos and at events was returned to stores when the cameras switched off or borrowed for show.


Are your adult kids still living in the basement?

Chuck Bentley on 11/19/15 7:00 AM


Despite an improving job market, more millennials are moving back home with their parents – and staying longer. A third of 18- to 34-year-olds are living with their families -- more than during the Great Recession, according to a recent analysis from the Pew Research Center.

An article in Yahoo Finance analyzed some of the reasons for this social trend and found some interesting factors:

#1. College Debt is forcing this lower cost arrangement. “The most recent class graduated with the most debt in history – an average of $35,051." 
While millennials said they were able to find a job after graduating, they felt financially unprepared to live on their own because of their education debt.

#2. Parents Want to Help.Parents are welcoming their adult kids back home with open arms, (in an effort to help them tackle their debt). 
Under their parents’ roof, many recent grads are saving thousands of dollars each month, money that would’ve gone to rent and food if they lived on their own. Some parents are using this opportunity to teach their kids to budget and save.


Marriage is good for our financial well being!

Chuck Bentley on 11/18/15 7:00 AM


Contrary to the popular myth that it is too expensive to get married and better to just live together, the data completely exposes the truth that marriage improves our financial health.  In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled: The Poverty Cure - Get Married, the author noted that marriage is vital.

“—as family-structure researchers (Sara McLanahan and Isabel Sawhill) note in the Future of Children, ‘most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide variety of outcomes’.”

Of course!

God said it was not good for man to be alone.  That meant it is not good on every level of his life, including his finances.

Research indicates that married couples have a higher net worth than those who live together, those who remain single and certainly more than those who divorce.   Don’t believe the lie that marriage is too expensive. Believe God when he says in Jeremiah 29:6, “Marry and have sons and daughters.”


Did you know that getting rid of greed will help you prosper?

Chuck Bentley on 11/17/15 7:00 AM


Proverbs 28:25 says, “The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.”

This is an interesting verse because it clearly implicates greed as placing trust in our possessions and ourselves. Now, I hope you can agree with me that self-confidence is a trap for fools.

By getting rid of that misplaced trust and placing our full confidence in the Lord as our faithful Provider, we will begin to experience the type of prosperity that God promises to those who love him.

When we are greedy, we can only see the world from a selfish perspective. Every person is looked at like a prospect, as someone who can do something for me. Every decision we make seeks to gain an advantage in business or social standing. It is a form of blindness.

C.S. Lewis said, “ I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”


Do you struggle with greed?

Chuck Bentley on 11/16/15 7:00 AM



Most people would likely answer no to my question.  In fact, a priest once told me that he had never heard anybody in his entire career confess to the sin of coveting or greed.  It is not only a sin we consider invisible, but many find it acceptable. 

Did you know that the Bible talks far more about greed and coveting than debt and saving? 

The Bible says that greed is idolatry, a sin on par with adultery and murder, which disqualifies those who are not redeemed from its grip from any inheritance in the kingdom of God.

So what is greed?

The dictionary says greed is an excessive desire for something, typically money or possessions.  I believe God warns us to avoid it because of what it tells the world about our relationship with Him.  We are in essence saying that things are more valuable to us than God.



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