I appreciate a famous quote from Francis of Assisi -

Chuck Bentley on 10/26/15 7:00 AM


“He who works with his hands is a laborer.

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.

He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

Paul said in Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

We are each made in His image and created to do good works.  The question is whether we are going to put in a half hearted effort or give the task at hand our very best. Those who put our hands, head and heart into our work are like the artist who wants others to be captivated by the beauty of the art. But unlike an artist who only wants the public to admire his work, we are called to seek to please the Lord Christ.  His approval is the only one that truly matters. So here are a few tips to help us become our best:


What percentage of your income should you save?

Chuck Bentley on 10/22/15 7:00 AM


Americans are currently saving an average of 4% of their annual income.  This is the lowest savings rate for any country in the developed world.  At a seminar I just completed, a participant asked me, “Well then, what is the right percentage of our income that we should be saving?” Glad you asked.

First, make a distinction between money that you want to save and money that you want to invest.  Savings should be money that is relatively safe, and can be accessed at any time a need arises.

It is important to save $1,000 and to keep that money on hand in an Emergency Savings Account that you do not spend unless absolutely necessary.  Next, keep saving until you have 3 to 6 months of your living expenses in this account.


Are you paying to have a checking account? I hope not.

Chuck Bentley on 10/21/15 7:00 AM


According to the percentage of banks offering free checking with no strings attached fell to 37% in 2015.

A total of 95% of the noninterest-bearing accounts Bankrate surveyed were either free or waive monthly maintenance fees for account holders who meet certain requirements, such as keeping a minimum balance or, most commonly, making regular direct deposits.

Unfortunately, according to the survey, “those who don't meet those requirements for free checking are now paying higher fees as well. The average monthly maintenance fee posted a double-digit gain in this year's survey, rising 11% to a new high of $5.86 (about $6).”


Six best practices for good stewards.

Chuck Bentley on 10/20/15 7:00 AM


The Bible makes it clear that the standard for good stewardship is that we are to be both faithful and disciplined.  Here is my list of best practices for good stewards.

  1. Be faithful by honoring God with the first fruit of all your income. That means make giving to God’s causes your highest priority. All other financial decisions come second.
  2. Be disciplined in your spending decisions. We are to “count the cost” before we start to build. By carefully spending less than you earn, you will create a surplus to be able to achieve your God-given goals and dreams. It takes financial margin to achieve our goals.
  3. Be disciplined by consistently saving a portion of all your income. This means you should have an Emergency Savings account starting with $1,000 and growing that to a minimum of 90 days of your gross annual income.

Credit cards are not evil!

Chuck Bentley on 10/19/15 7:00 AM


This may surprise you but I carry a credit card, never fail to pay off my balance at the end of the month or pay late fees. For that, Ann and I take advantage of the convenience the card allows, earn airline miles and enjoy 30 days of interest free money. I have been asked, “Why do you endorse credit cards? I was taught that they are evil and we should cut them up in little pieces!” 

Credit cards are a form of currency.  It is true that there are horror stories of unsuspecting folks who get trapped in a cycle of debt that is near impossible to escape. The problem is not the card:  it is using one if you are ignorant of the contract you have signed or you lack self-control. If either or both of those conditions are challenges you face, don’t use a credit card, use cash only. 


Are you hedged against economic uncertainties?

Chuck Bentley on 10/15/15 7:00 AM


While we don’t know the future, it is wise to remain prepared against uncertainties. For instance, you don’t know how long you will be able to stay healthy or if you will experience a job loss.

Further, you should be very skeptical right now about the economic strength of the world’s largest economies such as China, Europe, Japan and the USA.  These nations have averted economic pain through quantitative easing, economic policy and market controls but it doesn’t mean we are not vulnerable to a correction.

So what is hedging and how does one go about it?

According to Investopedia, “’Hedging’ or ‘Hedging risk’ is making an investment to reduce the risk of adverse price movements in an asset. In other words, investors hedge one investment by making another.”


So what happened with all that Shemitah stuff?

Chuck Bentley on 10/14/15 7:00 AM


Many are asking if we dodged an economic collapse that Rabbi Jonathan Cahn warned us about in his NY Times best selling book, The Shemitah.  It is true that the Shemitah occurred in September, 2015.  If you are like me, you may have been expecting a severe economic shaking that seems to have been avoided.

I happened to be in China during the time when it was expected that an economic collapse might begin during the Shemitah. The Chinese stock markets began to meltdown. The value of their market dropped by over 50%. The government stepped in and curtailed further damage with extreme measures to prevent a 1929 style collapse. 

The US markets got nervous but then seemed to stabilize. 


American’s have one of the lowest personal savings rates in the world.

Chuck Bentley on 10/13/15 7:00 AM


The average personal savings rate for Americans has been hovering around 4.9%.  We save $5 out of very $100, which is not bad… unless we compare it to other countries. The Chinese average 38%, the Irish 19%, the French save 16% and Australians save 9.3%.

For a developed country, we have one of the lowest savings rates in the world.

Here are some tips to help you improve you become a better saver.

  • Start today. Procrastination is your enemy!  The sooner you start, the better.  If you are hearing me and thinking, “Hey it is a good idea to save money, someday” you will likely never do it! Start today. 

Apples or Apple, Inc. which is a better investment?

Chuck Bentley on 10/12/15 7:00 AM


A friend recently sent me an article where the author gave this challenge – What is a better investment, planting an Apple orchard or buying Apple stock? 

According to the author, “If you had bought Apple stock at its IPO in 1980, you’d be up over 200x your money. And that is truly phenomenal performance.

But had you instead planted an apple tree back in 1980, that investment of roughly $1 would have yielded you THOUSANDS of dollars over the last 35 years.”

Now, the obvious difference is that working an orchard requires time, labor, some knowledge about growing fruit whereas owning stock is a passive investment. We are not comparing apples to apples, so to speak.  However, the point is well taken that we should analyze and understand what we are investing in before making a rush to judgment about where we can get the greatest returns.


Today, some great tips for paying off your BIG debts!

Chuck Bentley on 10/8/15 7:00 AM


Yahoo finance had an inspiring money story recently about Nick Gabel who found himself with $100,000 of debt and no job back in 1996. He eventually paid it all of by taking on two minimum wage jobs, drastically cutting all expenses to the bone and applying all of his income from one job towards his eventual escape from the trap.

I like the tips he gave in the article:

His tips for others who are working to pay off big debt are:

“Be aggressive. Paying just the minimum won't do the job, he says. "If people can pay off a $35,000 car loan in five years, why do they just pay minimums on student loans? If you just pay the minimum, it will never go away."
Automate it. Don't give yourself the opportunity to spend money that is earmarked for debt. (Also don't risk a late payment or oversight.)


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