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What are your plans for Valentine's Day?

Valentine’s Day can be an expensive day! Last year an estimated $19 billion was spent on this man-made holiday. As people who desire to steward well, yet show our love, we can find budget-friendly, creative alternatives to honor those we hold dear.

So here is my advice for not breaking the bank to honor your love:

  • Instead of going out, try cooking new recipes together.
  • Support a local coffee shop and try some new flavors.
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Being threatened by a debt collector is no joke. Do you know your rights?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently reported than 1 in 4 consumers felt threatened when contacted by debt collectors. They experience collectors calling too often, at odd hours, and warnings of jail time and other frightening threats. Some were being hounded for debts they did not even owe! Many complained that the collectors ignored requests to stop contacting them.

Sarah Skidmore Sell, of the Associated Press says that although the Bureau is working on stopping abuse, there are some things you need to know.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects those being pursued for personal debts on a credit card, auto loan or mortgage. Business debt is not covered.

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Thou Shalt Not Steal … Music included!

Originially posted on the Christian Post on December 16.

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 trying to talk to my children about Christian values and ethics. In the Bible, Jesus always brings simple truth into complicated situations, and I am trying to teach my kids to do the same. My kids and I have had some very interesting conversations about “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” which really covers more than just robbing a bank. What are some ways that people steal that I can discuss with my family to better illustrate the point?

A Parent Looking for some Parables

Dear Parent,

Thanks for the question! Bringing the scripture to life in everyday situations is one of a parent’s most important roles in the life of a child, according to Deuteronomy 11.

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6 Christmas Budget Busters - The most common traps to overspending at the holidays and tips on how you can avoid them

Christmas shopping can be the most expensive and stressful shopping experience of the entire year year. Many stores count on last minute, frantic shoppers to overspend out of desperation. Crown Financial Ministries has compiled a list of these Christmas Budget Busters for you to lookout for and tips on how to avoid them.

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Want to celebrate Christmas without blowing your hard-earned savings? Today, some tips for a Christmas without the financial stress.

First of all, protect yourself from advertising overload. Companies know how to play on our emotions to get us to purchase their products. Rather, pray for legacy-building ideas that don’t require money. Intentionally plan a stress-free holiday that allows you to focus on Christ, the best gift of all.

What do you have? Think about it! Time, talent, and training cannot be underestimated!

Give of your possessions. Pass down things that can be treasured by others. Take note of what your children or friends especially like in your home.

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Be on high alert for scams!

Unfortunately, this wonderful time of year is when scammers attempt to prey on shoppers.

The Better Business Bureau publishes a list of the Top 12 Scams of Christmas. Here are a few to keep in mind.

Fake charities: The holidays create a great opportunity for scammers to solicit donations to fill their own pockets. Beware of solicitations from charities that cannot deliver on their promises or pretend to be representing victims that do not really exist.

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I hate scams, especially this one!

Chuck Bentley on 9/13/16 8:00 AM

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Now this one has not happened to anyone in our family, but since I have a son in college, I was glad to learn about it so we can have our guard up. 

According to John Wasik who writes a blog for Forbes on financial scams, “This latest scam has crooks calling families or students to warn them about paying a ‘federal student tax.’”

Now, to be clear…there is no such thing and nobody owes a student tax.

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Climbing a Pyramid or Building a Business?

Originally posted at Christian Post July 29, 2016.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can ask Chuck your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck,

I’ve read your book The Worst Financial Mistakes in the Bible, and heard you speak when you visited my church in Brazil. I´ve come across a situation that made me wonder what you and the Bible might think of Multi-level Marketing (MLM or network marketing). Several friends have approached me with opportunities, but so far I have declined. My wife and I have read about it a lot more since we were first approached. We´ve even read Robert Kiyosaki's  The Business of the 21st Century where he recommends MLM, but what do you think? I really would appreciate any advice you can provide.

Friends in Brazil


Dear Friends,

Greetings from America, and thank you for reaching out with such a great question.  The answer is complex and my honest answer runs the risk of offending some people, but in my experience, not all MLM opportunities are created equal, and that comes directly from the U.S. Government. In fact, I find many of the MLM opportunities very troubling.

Consider this: according to the Federal Trade Commission:

“In multilevel or network marketing, individuals sell products to the public — often by word of mouth and direct sales. Typically, distributors earn commissions, not only for their own sales, but also for sales made by the people they recruit. Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money. If you’re considering buying into a multilevel marketing plan, get the details.”

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Is identity theft insurance a good idea?

Chuck Bentley on 6/21/16 8:00 AM

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We hear lots of folks pushing the latest insurance product – identity theft protection insurance. Yes, the Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft has been the #1 consumer complaint for 14 straight years, so there is reason to believe this may be very helpful coverage to buy. But not so fast.  As they say, the devil is in the details. 

According to an article in the US News and World Report, some policies may not be worth the cost of the insurance.

“The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says the typical cost of identity theft insurance ranges from $25 to $60 per year.  That’s not bad. The insurance may include credit alerts, account and credit monitoring, and reimbursement for the costs associated with repairing your credit history if you become a victim.

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Have you ever wanted to sell things through websites like Craigslist, but been afraid to try it?

Chuck Bentley on 6/8/16 8:00 AM

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Recently someone who wanted to make a little extra money selling things online expressed some fear of using Craigslist – especially after seeing stories of people killed when they show up to make a purchase. Uh, yeah. I get their concern for sure. Today, I have a few tips. 

It’s very appropriate to be concerned about any exchange on the Internet. Just because we are Christians, and hope for the best, doesn’t mean we don’t want to be wise about how we conduct business.

Here’s what I recommend when buying or selling online.

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