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Are you looking for ways to earn a little extra money this month? How about emptying out your storage unit!

Joshua Becker who blogs at Becoming Minimalist says 1 in 10 Americans rent off-site storage. Twenty-five percent of Americans have two-car garages but don’t have room to park a vehicle inside,
while thirty-two percent can only park one.

We have too much stuff and pay to store more. This is a problem!

Natalie Campisi at Go Banking Rates.com compiled some interesting statistics. The average national storage unit costs are:

  • $40-$50 per month for a 5-by-5-foot unit
  • $75-$140 per month for a 10-by-15-foot unit

Those prices increase for climate controlled units and more square feet.

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Black Friday Survival Guide - 10 Ways to Avoid Overspending on the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year

According to the Balance, 133.7 million Americans went shopping on Black Friday weekend in 2014 and spent a total of $50.9 billion. Stores count on bringing in at least 30% of their annual sales just between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making you the apple of thousands of marketer’s eyes.

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Is it the credit card that is preventing you from becoming financially free?

Many cannot imagine living in the modern world of electronic commerce without the use of a credit card. Because of that, I see couples that basically manage their entire budget around keeping their credit card balances paid down enough to stay out of hot water.

Did you know that if you carry a large monthly balance on your credit card and pay only the minimum monthly payments, you are actually creating a debt more expensive than your home mortgage? None of us would ever order pizza knowing we would be paying for it over the next 25 years, would we? 

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Shopping and Emotions

According to Heather Gilmore, a writer for The Dollar Stretcher.com“emotions can lead to the desire to shop or, on the other hand, shopping can lead to emotions. Shopping can be prompted by sadness, grief, loss, insecurity, guilt, and excitement.”

Shopping can create a pleasurable experience making people want to experience the "high" again.

The after-shopping experience can involve positive or negative emotions that can affect future decisions about shopping. A person might feel guilt over having spent more money than what they had set aside in their budget. This may then create an unsettling feeling during future shopping experiences. It may create an aversion toward shopping (a feeling like a person should not purchase needed things), which might make future spending less likely, or create such an increased feeling of guilt or shame that there is no desire to purchase anything in the future.

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Is your student loan stressing you out?

New college graduates are leaving school with an average of $37,000 in student loan debt and the impact can cause significant stress.

Research from the 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers indicates some significant impact to overall financial well being for workers who have student loan debt vs. those who don’t. Almost twice as many employees with student loan debt say they are stressed about their finances (81% to 46%), they use credit cards to pay for monthly necessities because they are unable to afford them otherwise (41% to 22%), and they find it difficult to meet their household expenses on time each month (65% to 35%). The same ratio of 2 to 1 say finances have been a distraction at work for those with student loan debt (50% to 23%).

These are all great reasons to make a plan to pay off your student loan debt. To do so, set a goal. That means to determine how much extra you pay towards getting out of debt and over what period of time you will do this to pay it off completely. Next, look for ways to reduce other expenses to be sure you have the amount of cash needed to meet that goal. Then look for ways to increase your income to apply towards the plan. Combining the reduction in spending and the increase in income can make a major difference.

Bankrate.com has some great tips. One of them is to set a goal to pay it off in 3 to 5 years by the plan I just outlined, but also committing any bonus money or salary increases all towards your debt repayment goals. Another plan is to “delay gratification” which means to stop spontaneous spending so you can save more to apply towards your debt reduction. 

Jesus teaches us not to worry about tomorrow. By eliminating debt, we have a far greater possibility of living without stress.

Now if credit card debt is giving you stress, turn to our partners at Christian Credit Counselors. They can set you up on a plan to get it paid back and avoid bankruptcy...and reduce your stress! Learn more at Crown.org.

 

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Is Divorce Easier for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie?

Originially posted on the Christian Post on October 21.

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Lessons From My Dad On Money and Finances

Today’s guest learned a valuable lesson about money from his dad.

My guest today is David McAlvany, President of McAlvany Wealth Advisors and author of his newest book, The Intentional Legacy.

David, what was the best thing your dad taught you about money and finance?

“My dad is in the money management business and has been for decades. He left me with an extreme aversion to debt. When I went off to college, I may have been the only kid who didn’t have credit cards in their pocket.

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The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Reverse Mortgages

Originially posted on the Christian Post on September 30.

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 elderly parents are considering a reverse mortgage because they are struggling on a fixed income. Is that a good idea? Could it do more harm than good?

Worried for Mom and Dad

Dear Worried,

I share your concerns about reverse mortgages, called “the ugly stepchildren of the home-lending industry” by CNBC, and they may be right. I tend to agree with their analysis that “most financial advisors see the products as a last resort for cash-strapped seniors—and a bad one at that. They are expensive, restrictive and usually don't provide enough income to help borrowers meet their financial needs for very long.”

But still, it’s useful to consider what they are and how they work, as each person’s financial situation is a bit different. 

According to CNBC: “A reverse mortgage enables homeowners of at least 62 years of age to get a lump-sum payment, a stream of payments or a line of credit they can tap based on the amount of equity they have in the property. The amount someone can borrow depends on the value of the home (up to a maximum of $625,500), his or her age and prevailing interest rates. The higher the property value, the older the borrower and the lower the interest rate, the more people can borrow.”

The trouble is that once the equity in your house is gone, a valuable resource is depleted. It is always better to find other solutions to your financial needs, if possible. 

To find out where you may be able to reduce expenses and free up cash, start with building a functional budget. Crown has many resources and free tools to assist you.

After you have looked at all that is available to you, consider whether selling your home to go smaller might be a better way to free up cash without any obligations to a lender. And remember, if you take out a reverse mortgage, that doesn’t exempt you from your other responsibilities as a homeowner. You still must keep up the house, the property taxes and the homeowner’s insurance, and any failure to keep that current can lead to foreclosure. This is a big risk if you are already financially strapped.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also notes: “Most reverse mortgages require you to pay insurance premiums. The insurance is there in case your loan balance grows to be more than your home is worth. With insurance, you won’t have to pay the difference. But, if you only stay in your home for a short period of time, chances are you are paying for insurance you don’t need. If you only plan to stay in your home for a short period of time, the loan balance is less likely to grow to more than your home value.”

Reverse mortgages often mean that your heirs don’t get the house or any resources at your death. While the borrower doesn't have to make payments on the loan, at the time of their death the loan is to be paid by the sale of the house, which means that your heirs or a surviving spouse (if they are not part of the loan) have to pay back the reverse mortgage or get out of the house.

If you don’t want to leave your home to others or are facing extreme health issues near the end of your life, perhaps a reverse mortgage gives you some financial flexibility. But as a tool for maintaining your retirement years, it is not a good idea. The interest rates are not always favorable, and you can outlive the value in your home.

For many retired people, changing your lifestyle is key to making resources last, especially without new money coming in, and that can require prayerfully considering what you really need versus what you want.  Philippians 4:11-13 advises, “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

To #Ask Chuck @AskCrown your own question, click here:

Chuck Bentley is the CEO of Crown, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late, Larry Burkett. He is an author, host of My MoneyLife, a daily radio feature, and a columnist for the Christian Post and a well-known speaker. Follow Crown @CrownUpdates For interviews or speaking requests contact media@crown.org

 

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Would you like to be financially free? Today, I will tell you how that is possible.

Chuck Bentley on 9/15/16 8:00 AM

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To be financially free requires two character qualities. The first is learning to be faithful and the other is learning to be disciplined. 

Luke 16:10-11 teaches us that God expects us to be faithful in small matters if we are to be trusted with bigger matters. In other words, trust or trustworthiness is the currency that God deals in. He wants to find those whose hearts are guided by integrity, honesty and absolute dependability when it comes to doing the right thing. And if you are not faithful in the smallest of your financial affairs, you will remain in financial bondage.

The other characteristic to be financially free is to be disciplined. Just as the body requires we are disciplined in our exercise and eating to be healthy so it is with our finances. We must exercise self-control when it comes to our work habits and our spending habits.

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Today, my list of the five things I don’t think you should use debt to purchase…

Chuck Bentley on 9/14/16 8:00 AM

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We live in a culture where debt is assumed to be essential for everything. The Bible tells us that the borrower is a slave to the lender so we should be vigilant in our efforts to avoid becoming financial slaves.  Here are the things I would not use debt to purchase:

  • A car. Financing something that immediately depreciates in value is a bad idea because of the risk of owing more than it is worth. Lenders now offer packages up to 6 or 7 years for a car… not a house… a car. It is far better to save the cash and buy one that gets you to where you need to go without paying a penny of interest.
  • A college education: Nothing against going to college, but the average student now graduates with $37,000 in student loan debt. That is crazy. Find ways to go without borrowing money.
  • It is tempting to splurge here and pay for a dream vacation using your credit cards. You will have far less stress by getting creative and paying cash for a vacation you can afford.
  • 2nd mortgages: Borrowing against your home equity is something I would not do because of the undue risk you are taking. Even borrowing to update the house should be avoided.
  • Consumer purchases like clothes, electronics, or furniture. It is far better not to have store accounts, or buy these things using a credit card. Cash is the way to go.

Right now go to Crown.org and take our free MoneyLife Indicator assessment. It will immediately identify areas where you can focus to begin making progress.  Our ministry is here to offer hope and tools to all who are interested in getting out of financial bondage with God’s help. Learn more at crown.org

 

Chuck Bentley is the CEO of Crown, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late, Larry Burkett. He is an author, host of My MoneyLife - a daily radio feature, and a frequent speaker on the topic of Biblical financial principles. Follow him on Twitter @chuckbentley and visit Crown.org for more help.

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