Archive for the ‘personal finance’ Category

Cut Back!

March 11, 2010

If an individual is spending more money than they make, they must either make more money or spend less.  If they decide to spend less, they will maintain the essentials and trim back on the non-essentials.

The same is true in the business world.  If you are not making a profit, then you need to remove non-essentials from your operating costs.  This can sometimes involve painful decisions.  It is important to make the right cuts.

The same is true with our government.  It is time to recognize  what is necessary, and what is non-essential.  It is high time to reduce spending in non-essential areas. It is not a time to be spending more money.  It is time to be spending less.

True Security

January 11, 2010

Personal security.

Home security.

Financial security.

Job security.

Airport security.

National security.

All of these issues are important in today’s world.  The papers have been filled lately with lapses in security from the White House Party Crashers to the Christmas Day Bomber; from our banks, to our jobs, to our home loans and our retirement funds.  All of these issues have two things in common. 

The first is that we should properly research, plan, prepare, execute and evaluate.  We should research the pertinent information.  We should make plans that are sufficient for our needs.  We should do the necessary groundwork to be properly prepared.  We should follow through on the execution of the plan.  We should evaluate effectiveness and adjust as necessary.

The second is to realize that all of our best efforts can still be undermined.  

True security comes from God.  Proverbs 21:31 says ” The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.” NKJ 

I understand this to mean that it is appropriate for us to make all of the necessary preparations, that we are responsible to do what we can, but, that we should realize that ultimately God is our true security.  Even as we are reminded by the phrase still on our coins, “In God we trust”.   We would do well to remember that.

Adjust

October 26, 2009

As a pastor, I am paid after the last Sunday of the month.  We made this arrangement years ago, when I was working a full-time job outside of the church.  The church set my salary at what they would like to pay me, and then paid me at the end of the month, after the bills were paid.   If there was money available. 

 It was my idea.  I was, and am, willing to trust God to provide for us.

 Sometimes I got a full check, and many times I did not.  Over the years, the church has become financially more stable.  I went to working a part time job.  (My wife also works outside of the church.)  The months that I did not receive a full check became less and less.  Now it is a rarity, but it still occurs occasionally.  ( Twice this year, so far. )

I practice what I preach. 

When the income drops, I adjust the family budget for the month.  Need versus want,  is applied as the budget must be adjusted.  Hard decisions about where the money will be used must be made if our monthly budget is to balance.  I am thankful that God has blessed me with a wife who is willing to live within a budget, and who volunteers ways to reduce our spending, that affects her personally.

God provides enough for us, even as I blogged earlier in a post titled “Enough”.  Not only do I practice what I preach; I believe what I preach.  Our church income this month was significantly reduced.  We will adjust.  It will not be without sacrifice, but  it will be enough.

Beyond Words

September 3, 2009

“The spirit may grasp truth that breaks beyond the barriers of human language.”

Last night in Bible study, one of the older members of our congregation, (She is 97!) commented that the topic was so deep that she was having trouble expressing what God was saying to her.  After the study was officially concluded, we were still sitting around talking and the line that I wrote above, came to me and I quickly got up wrote it down on the board so that I wouldn’t forget it. 

I believe that God communicates to us in a variety of ways.  God will utilize the natural means of verbal communication, such as reading, dialogue, and rational thought; but additional truths are grasped by an internal comprehension,  a revelation on a spiritual level, which allows us to understand, but that may be difficult to express.  These truths have a profound impact on how we comprehend the things of God, and of the world, and even though our attempts to put them into words are only partially successful; they enrich our lives, and our cognition of metaphysical reality.

Credit Crunch

November 12, 2008

“The secret to obtaining wealth is to live well within your means.”

I don’t remember who said this, but I remember reading it many years ago.  I suspect that there are many problems in our economy today that were created by people who try to live beyond their means. 

People want things that they do not have the money to buy, so they use credit.  Buy now, pay later.  The problem is that sooner or later, the debt, which will grow substantially,  will have to be paid.  Living on credit is like living in a house of cards, sooner or later, a breeze is going to come up and the house will come crashing down.

That’s what is going on in our economy right now.  The house of cards is coming down all around us.  The government is trying to prop up the house of cards, but there is a pretty strong breeze.

We will have to pick up the pieces and try to build a stronger economy on something other than the unreliable foundation of credit. Individuals, families, and businesses should learn to make more prudent decisions about their spending habits. 

More savings, less credit. 

Buy now, pay now. 

Save some for the future.

Financial Responsibility

September 29, 2008

As an individual, I have long sought to make appropriate financial decisions for myself and for my family.  There are many things that we have gone without, but we have always had our needs met and have always kept up with our bills.

As the pastor of a church, we have made it a priority to stay within our budget.  We do not spend what we do not have in the bank.  We have paid off our debts, maintained our property, and even made some improvements. 

At this time in our country there is a financial crisis because individuals took out loans that they could not afford.  Companies made those loans knowing that they were risky.  Neither side was being financially responsible in their decisions.  Whatever our government decides to do, it is going to be fraught with risk.  I am praying earnestly that they will make the right decision.

I hope that we will learn from this situation.  That in the same way that many of us are trying to go “green'” in our lifestyles, that we will, as a society, begin to make better financial decisions, that we will become financially responsible.

Economic Security

September 18, 2008

This past week has not been a good week for the stock market in the USA.  There have been two days of major drops and there are still two days of trading left in the week.  I suspect that some people are truly being devastated by this economic upheaval. 

I am not worried at all.

I have a four part plan for economic security. 

First,  I understand the difference between needs and wants.   We need the basics of food, clothing and shelter.  Beyond that, it is what we want to have that gets us into trouble.  One of the biggest problems that people have today is that they want to live beyond their income.  Credit is available, and people overextend themselves to have something today that they will pay for dearly tomorrow.  Often these are things that people want, but don’t need.  We don’t need steak, designer clothing or large homes.  I understand the diffence between needs and wants, and am willing to live within my income.

Secondly, I create and stay on a budget.  I believe in planning ahead.  I believe in saving for large ticket items, rather than paying the interest on a loan.  I am thankful that my wife agrees with me about this issue, because it takes both of us being willing to work together to make a budget work. 

Third, I have told my sons since they were toddlers, that I will take care of you for the first eighteen years of your life, if necessary, you will take care of me, for the last years of my life.  I hope that it will never come to that, but it is an option that has been used for generations, long before social security or pensions. 

Fourth, and most importantly, since I was sixteen, I have been faithful in giving back to God a tithe, plus offerings, of my income.  I believe that God blesses my finances, at least partially, because I have always trusted that God is my ultimate provider.  He is my true source of economic security.

Budget Basics

July 8, 2008

Budget is not a four letter word!  A budget is not bondage, nor is it punishment in any way.  A budget is the difference between planning where your money goes, and wondering where your money goes.

Simply put, a budget helps you to plan your spending so that your needs are met, and you can achieve your goals.  This actually is a freeing experience because you do not have to wonder about how you are going to pay your bills, you plan how to pay your bills.

1.  Make a list of categories.  This can be done on a computer, or with old fashioned paper and pencil.  Housing, utilities, food, clothing, supplies, gas, car, insurance, etc should all be included.

2.  Enter the amounts that are fixed on a monthly basis, housing, telephone, loan payments, etc. 

3.  Take costs that are quarterly, annual or whatever,  and divide the amount so that you know the monthly cost.  Be sure to include everything that you can think of; registration, insurance, etc. 

4.  Assign amounts to the categories that are needs; food, clothing, gasoline, etc. 

5.  Add categories for things are extra; eating out, entertainment, etc.

6.  Include categories saving money for future special purchases or plans, appliances, vacations, Christmas etc.

7.  Compare the figures.  The amount assigned to the categories when added together cannot exceed your monthly income.  If it does, then you need to either cut things out of the budget, reduce the amounts in the categories, or find ways to increase your monthly income.  These are tough decisions to make, but your monthly expenses cannot exceed your monthly income without causing serious problems. (Unless you have substantial cash reserves.) 

8.  Keep track of your spending.  It is very important, to track where your money is actually being spent.  As the month is progressing, you can make adjustments to your spending.  This is the tough part.  Setting up the budget is one thing, staying on the budget is another.

I have introduced both of my sons to budgeting. They have both told me that they have seen the benefits of having a budget and plan to continue with it.  I believe that it is very helpful at any stage in life and it is never too late, or too soon, to start. Start with something simple, and add categories as you get the hang of it.  

Any questions?