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Today, some tips for managing your cash….

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 20, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Cash remains an important part of our financial transactions. Yet, we tend to forget how important it is to manage our cash.  

According to the summary of the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, a national study, cash still has a "dominant role" when it comes to small-value transactions. It also remains essential for lower-income consumers who may not have access to alternative payment options, and it is widely used for retail sector payments.

The study notes that cash "accounts for a relatively small share of total consumer transaction activity at 14%, while electronic methods make up 27% and checks 19%."

The findings, therefore suggest that while consumers may not use checks or electronic payments very often, they prefer those methods for high-value transactions, "the average value of a cash transaction is only $21, compared with $168 for checks and $44 for debit cards."

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Topics: Personal Finance

Are you struggling to save money? Learn from Singapore…

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 16, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Forbes Magazine columnist John Goodman had a lot of high praise for the nation of Singapore’s alternative to the American welfare system…I quote: 

Singapore has built an alternative to the European style welfare state. Think of all the reasons why people turn to government in other developed countries: retirement income, housing, education, medical care etc. In Singapore people are required to save to take care of these needs themselves.

At times the forced saving rate has been as high as 50% of income. Today, employees under 50 years of age must set aside 20% of their wages and employers must contribute another 16%. These funds go into accounts where they grow through time until specific needs arise. For example, one of the uses for these savings is housing. About 90% of Singapore households are homeowners – the highest rate of home ownership in the world.

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Topics: Personal Finance

Crown Offers Tax Advice: Because Only Jesus can go fishing for a tax plan

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 15, 2015 10:39:00 AM

“If you’re looking for a reason to refuse to pay your taxes, don’t open the Bible,” observed Crown CEO Chuck Bentley, in a national column, detailing tax advice for people who want to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” without breaking the bank. Tax planning should begin early, keeping in mind that getting ready today will save a large bill and problems later, but it probably won’t be possible to do what Jesus did in Matthew 17.

The Bible tells a story in which Jesus told Peter to go fishing at tax time, cutting open the first fish he would catch to find a coin to pay the temple tax. Bentley observed: “Only Jesus can go fishing for a tax plan.”

In 2014, the U.S. Tax Code was close to 74, 000 pages, now including a requirement to document your healthcare coverage to comply with Obamacare’s mandates. In fact, U.S. Tax Code is twice the length of the King James Bible plus the entire works of Shakespeare combined. This level of complexity means that it will take some work (maybe even a miracle) to manage our taxes.

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Topics: Personal Finance

What is your financial theology?

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 15, 2015 8:00:00 AM

All of us have a theology of money whether we realize it or not.  And for us Christians, the church we attend has a theology of money.  If you were like me, you probably never realized how much your behavior with money is controlled by your theology or philosophy of money.   Here are some of the basics we teach on this program. 

1. God is our provider.  In Genesis 22:14 He is Jehovah Jireh – the God who will provide.  We look to Him to have our needs met. 
 
2. God is the owner of all things.  Psalm 24: 1 says, The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
 
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Topics: Personal Finance

Are you carrying a balance on your credit cards? That is a financial no/no.

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 14, 2015 8:00:00 AM

If you were to take the family out for pizza tonight and after enjoying your food and fellowship sign an agreement to take out a mortgage loan to pay for the meal, you would likely think that was crazy.  However, if you are carrying a $5000 balance on your credit card and making the minimum monthly payment with a 15% interest rate it is likely you will be paying for that pizza for the next 18 years. 

According to bankrate.com, a low interest rate on a credit card balance today is 11%.  In reality, that is a much more expensive rate than your home mortgage rate!  I am not against the use of credit cards. They are convenient and in some cases essential for making purchases.  However, I am totally against carrying a monthly balance of any amount. It is wasted money.   If you can’t pay off your balance every month, then I recommend two immediate steps.

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Topics: Personal Finance

Credit Cards can be an asset to your financial well being

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 13, 2015 9:00:00 AM

It is not true that people who use a credit card have a problem with debt.  The national charge off rate for credit debt for the top 100 banks averages about 3.7% which means around 96% of credit card holders are faithful to pay their balances. 

However, if you are among those who actively use a credit card there is a good way and a bad way to use them.  Here are four tips to turn them into an asset.

First, use only one credit card.  In our home we have had only one card for the past twenty years. We have never had the need to use multiple cards.  You run a higher risk of overspending when you use a variety of cards. 

Second, be sure that the one card you use has a good rewards program.  You can search online to find and compare cards.  Try creditcard.com to compare rewards programs.

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Topics: Personal Finance

Don’t expect money to grow on trees or fall out of the sky. Building wealth takes work.

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 9, 2015 9:00:00 AM

A recent study by Fidelity Investments focused on what it takes to become a millionaire without the help of a game show, and found that many people have the ability to accrue tremendous wealth.

Fidelity’s seventh “Millionaire Outlook” study looked at the potential investors have for moving up toward millionaire status. The key group in the study was the “emerging affluent,” which would be the people who seem to have both the resources and the interest/ability to accumulate wealth.

The key finding in the Fidelity study is that those on the path to wealth have six factors on their side; factors that Fidelity showed were shared by people who had already reached and surpassed the million-dollar level.  Those six wealth-building factors are: time horizon, career, income, self-made status, long-term focus and investing style.

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Topics: Personal Finance

Do you have life insurance? Some good advice today on how to save money.

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 8, 2015 9:00:00 AM

I think life insurance is a great idea and it is especially important for families to have adequate coverage.  I did a little research on how to save money on life insurance and came across an option that I did not know existed.

Some insurance providers allow you to add a rider to your life insurance policy that can save you 5% all the way to 40% on your premium!  This rider allows the insured to spread the death benefit out as a payment to the beneficiary over a period of years instead of a lump sum payment. For example, a policy with a $500,000 death benefit could be structured to that the benefit to the beneficiary pays out $50,000 a year for 10 years instead of a $500,000 lump sum.

This is a great option if:

1) you desire a lower premium and

2) you are OK with your beneficiary(ies) receiving payments over a set number of years
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Topics: Personal Finance

47% of Americans save zero.

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 7, 2015 9:00:00 AM

A recent article in Business Insider headlined this news:  Nearly half of all Americans save nothing. That is nada, zero, zip.  Here’s the problem with the article. This is not news. This has been the practice for about the last 20 years.  The bigger question is Why?  Why are we a nation we very few savers? 

I scanned through the many comments to this article and a popular explanation is that half of our population thinks they don’t earn enough money to be able to save.  To that I say, not true!  If you are a low-income earner you can’t afford NOT TO SAVE.

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Topics: Personal Finance

Where do you eat out the most?

Posted by Chuck Bentley

Apr 6, 2015 9:00:00 AM

The Huffington Post recently reported that 8 out of 10 Americans eat fast food at least once a month. That comes as no surprise, but their preferred choice did surprise me.

A recent study by Morgan Stanley asked the top 3 factors folks look for when choosing a restaurant 1) Great-tasting food, 2) Good value for the money, and 3) High-quality food. And the winner----60% of all the respondents said McDonalds.  Sixty percent of the respondents ate at McDonalds the most in the past three months.

This was the top choice across the board for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials.

Why is this important? Fast food has become a way of life in our culture. It is convenient to pop in and grab a quick me, but it is hard on your budget especially if it is frequent habit. 

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Topics: Personal Finance

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