Looking for ways to squeeze just a few more dollars out of your budget? Sometimes, just a single tip can save you a tidy little sum each month. But bundle a few of them together and now you’re really saving money! The Bible teaches us to be wise stewards of God’s resources and that starts with living on a budget. Today we have some great tips to help you stretch your budget. Take advantage of your grocery store’s option to order online. When you order online you always know exactly what you’re spending. If you go over budget, you can easily remove something from your digital cart. Some folks have reported saving over a hundred dollars a month that way. Plus, this saves a lot of time. If you need to pick up a grocery item or two later in the week, don’t get a cart or basket. That way, when you have to carry the items to check out you won’t be able to impulse shop. Keep your checking and savings accounts in different banks. If you don’t "see" your savings account you’re less likely to tap into it. This is another reason to have your savings account in a higher interest online bank. You can connect it with your checking account to transfer money. But otherwise, your savings are out of sight. Pay off debt first! Don’t wait to see how much you have left over at the end of the month. Budget an amount for debt repayment and transfer that money when it comes in. That way you know it’s done. Have a weekly budget meeting or "Money Date" with your spouse. Sit down and discuss how well you did last week staying on budget and how you’re doing at meeting your goals. Get an accountability partner, probably your spouse, for large purchases. Agree to consult the other person before spending, say, more than $50. By talking about it, you may discover that the item isn’t necessary. Often, just the thought of having to clear it with someone makes the desire to spend go away. If an unexpected expense crops up and you don't yet have an emergency fund and it blows your budget for the month, don’t give up! Instead, write up a temporary budget to get you through the rest of the month or until your next paycheck. Cut out all unnecessary spending and try to stay as close to budget as possible while living on as little as you can. Don’t let it become an excuse to overspend just because you hit a bump in the road. Make it more difficult to buy stuff online. Delete your credit or debit card information from online stores. If you have to get up and hunt for your wallet, you’re more likely to think twice about making a purchase. If you spend cash rather than using plastic, you’re already spending less just from the psychological factor of having to use real dollars. But there's another way cash-spenders can save. Let’s say you have to make a major purchase and you’ve saved up cash for it. Ask for a discount because you’re paying with cash. The store is automatically saving 2 or 3% by not having to pay a vendor fee and they might pass some of that savings on to you. Hey, every little bit helps and it doesn’t cost anything to ask. You can often negotiate your medical bills, too. In many cases, a doctor, hospital or clinic will give you a break, especially if you’re paying with cash. That way, they don’t have to go through an insurance company to get paid. On today’s program we also answer the following listener questions: --I keep hearing about Roth IRA's. I don’t have one. Am I too old and will it benefit me much? I’m 57 years old. --Just how much money do you need for retirement anyway? --What is a SEP IRA and how can it benefit me as someone who’s self-employed? Remember, you can call in to ask your questions 24/7 at (800) 525-7000 or email them to [email protected] Also, visit our website at MoneyWise.org where you can listen to past programs, connect with a MoneyWise Coach, and even download free, helpful resources like the free MoneyWise app. Like and Follow us on Facebook at MoneyWise Media for the very latest discussion! And remember that it’s your prayerful and financial support that keeps MoneyWise on the air. Help us continue this outreach by clicking the Donate tab on our website or in our app.
The longer you do something the more it becomes a habit. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Establishing good habits early in life will be a blessing for years to come. It’s never too early to establish wise habits for managing money, especially if you’re a teenager. Today, we’ll give you five of them, and these are great habits to start anytime in life. 1. Stay on top of spending. It’s always important to know where your money is going; but you can’t do that unless you track it. The MoneyWise app helps you by establishing a budget based on the envelope system. You can monitor all of your transactions and catch bad habits before they get out of hand. While you're at it, consider getting a cash back debit card that will earn money back on your purchases. Just make sure they’re budgeted. 2. Get a budget buddy. Two heads are better than one and you can challenge each other to stay on budget and look for ways to save money. 3. Always Be Saving (ABS). Another way to say it is pay yourself first. When you deposit money into your checking account, transfer a portion of it to savings. Do this before you spend even a penny and do it consistently, even if it’s only a few dollars a week. The important thing is to establish the habit of saving. And while you're establishing the saving habit, you can do the same for giving. 4. Build a good credit rating. Parents can set up a secured credit card for you that lets you deposit a certain amount into an account that the bank holds as collateral for the card. You can then make small, budgeted purchases up to your limit, which is the amount on deposit. Then you pay the card off in full each month. As you do that, you’ll start to establish a good credit history and score. But remember that having credit is a double-edge sword. It can be a real convenience or it can lead you into debt if you’re not careful. To avoid that, refer back to habit number 1 to stay on top of your spending and stay on budget. 5. Learn how to manage money wisely. There’s no better way to do that than by studying God’s Word. The Bible has more than 2,300 verses related to the wise use of money and possessions. As you study Scripture, be on the lookout for them and consider how they apply to your life. Proverbs and Jesus’ parables are particularly rich in God’s financial principles. Also, educate yourself about credit scores, avoiding debt, and the best ways to save for college and yes, even retirement. Those things might seem far off right now, but they’ll become very important before you know it. And remember, the MoneyWise app has hundreds of great articles about managing money from a godly perspective. Get in the habit of reading one a day and sharing what you’ve learned with friends. The knowledge you gain will carry you well as you prepare to venture out into life on your own. On today’s program we also answer the following listener questions: --What do you think about downsizing your home and paying cash for a new, smaller house? --I have some money with Vanguard in a 401(k). However, I want to do more Christian-friendly, ethical investing. What thoughts do you have on this? --We bought a piece of land some time ago for $26,000. It’s now worth about $80,000. Do we have to pay capital gains tax on this? Remember, you can call in to ask your questions 24/7 at (800) 525-7000 or email them to [email protected] Also, visit our website at MoneyWise.org where you can listen to past programs, connect with a MoneyWise Coach, and even download free, helpful resources like the free MoneyWise app. Like and Follow us on Facebook at MoneyWise Media for the very latest discussion! And remember that it’s your prayerful and financial support that keeps MoneyWise on the air. Help us continue this outreach by clicking the Donate tab on our website or in our app.
We all have our favorite things in life, things that bring us joy, meaning and fulfillment. Sometimes it’s nice to make a list of our favorites. This helps us recognize and appreciate them even more. Rob West recently made a list of his favorite financial things and shares it with us today. 1. Where to keep your emergency fund. Higher yield savings rates are found in online banks, not the brick and mortar types, and within that category he has three favorites: Ally, Marcus and Capital One 360 and of course, all of these are FDIC insured and right now offer around .5% on savings. Of those, Marcus tops the list because of no fees or minimum deposits, linking to other banks for same day transfers, a US based contact center to answer your questions, and a great app. 2. Teen checking accounts. It's great to use them as a tool to teach your kids to manage their money wisely. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Rob recommends a Capital One teen checking account. It has no fees or minimum balance, it offers a debit card for teens with parental locking and unlocking, and a mobile app that allows you to easily transfer birthday and allowance money into the account. 3. Rob's favorite credit card is the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card. (Warning: Rob always says to pay off the balance in full every month. Otherwise, the interest you pay will easily wipe out any rewards you receive.) The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card has no annual fee and it gives you 2% on every purchase. One catch -- you have to sign up to automatically deposit your cash back into one or more Fidelity accounts (such as a Fidelity 529 plan to save for college) a Roth or traditional IRA or an HSA. So you don’t get to spend the 2% cash you get back; it has to go into savings and that’s a pretty smart idea. 3. Digital Envelope Budgeting Systems. Rob's favorite, of course, is the MoneyWise app. It’s based on the old school, tried-and-true, paper envelope system (only it’s digital). Your envelope balances carry over month to month and you can only use the money in your accounts to fund those envelopes so that you stay on budget! The MoneyWise app easily keeps your transactions organized. You can split transactions between envelopes and can record memos to help you remember what you purchased. You can even run custom reports to see where you're spending the most money. Also, you can manage all of your accounts in one place and connect to over 11,000 institutions. That way, you can easily see all your accounts and have balances and transactions automatically imported. Plus, you get great financial content from a biblical perspective from contributors such as Randy Alcorn, Shaunti Feldhahn, and many more. Best of all, the MoneyWise app is free! You can download it wherever you get your apps. On today’s program we also answer the following listener questions: --I’m newly married and want to start our financial future well. How much should we save after bills and everything else? --We’re considering doing an addition to our paid-for home and are waiting six months to a year to see if construction costs will go down. What should we do? --I’m trying to figure out my finances after being married for 27 years. I’m soon to be divorced. Just trying to stay in my home. What advice can you give? Remember, you can call in to ask your questions 24/7 at (800) 525-7000 or email them to [email protected] Also, visit our website at MoneyWise.org where you can hear past programs, connect with a MoneyWise Coach, and even download free, helpful resources like the free MoneyWise app. Like and Follow us on Facebook at MoneyWise Media for the latest discussion! And remember that it’s your prayerful and financial support that keeps MoneyWise on the air. Help us continue this outreach by clicking the Donate tab on our website or in our app.
What’s the most published and most read book in history containing more than 2300 references to money and is worth more than its weight in gold? I think you already know the answer. Of course, we’re talking about the Bible. Every speck of wisdom in this world is found within its pages and we’ll dive into that including a few verses sometimes overlooked from a financial perspective. John chapter 14, verse 27, Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." 'Peace to you' was a common salutation among Jews in the first century A.D., and it’s repeated often throughout the New Testament. Jesus means that true peace comes from knowing that we’re reconciled with God through faith in Him. But what does it have to do with money?Jesus tells us that by focusing on God everything we need in this world will be added to us. But when we rely on our own power to provide, we have to be reminded constantly that God owns everything that He is our Provider not just of wealth, but even our skills and abilities to acquire it. Proverbs 12:11 tells us, "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense." Proverbs 14:23: In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 12:24, "The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor." So, we must work heartily wherever we feel God calling us and He will provide the rest. Believing that leads to contentment. Of course, we’re to use our brains as well as our hands when we work. We should plan carefully in all that we set out to do whether that’s earning, saving, or giving. And of course we must be totally honest in all that we do. Psalm 37 tells us, "Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked." In Matthew 25, He talks about separating the sheep and goats on Judgment Day. Jesus says, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." When we care for the poor, we’re caring for Jesus Himself who has the power to welcome us into eternal dwellings. That’s truly a wise use of worldly wealth. Here are a few questions we answered from our callers on this program: --I am going to be 85 years old. I live with my daughter and son in law. I was left with a considerable amount of money in the bank. I have trusts for my children. Is it feasible to invest some of this? --I am looking at buying a property. Since all house prices are up, should I wait for the housing bubble to pop? --What are your thoughts on an index universal life program? --My husband and I cashed out our 401K and bought property and started a business. We are reducing debt and don’t keep a credit card balance. Should we put money back into a 401K or somewhere else? Ask your questions at (800) 525-7000 or email them to [email protected] Visit our website at MoneyWise.org where you can connect with a MoneyWise Coach, purchase books, and even download free, helpful resources like the MoneyWise app. Like and Follow us on Facebook at MoneyWise Media for videos and the very latest discussion! Remember that it’s your prayerful and financial support that keeps MoneyWise on the air. Help us continue this outreach by clicking the Donate tab at the top of the page.
People often ask if they’re responsible for a loved one’s debts after death. In most cases, the answer is no, but not always. Would you know how to manage a family member’s accounts after death? There’s actually quite a bit to it. One of the first things you may be surprised to learn is that when someone passes away, their credit reports aren’t frozen or closed automatically. The estate’s executor or personal representative will have to do that. And it’s very important to close credit reports as the deceased could still be the victim of identity theft. And it may even be more likely after death. So you need to have a death notice placed on the deceased's credit reports. Often, the surviving spouse will be the executor or personal representative, but even when that’s not the case, the surviving spouse needs to work with the executor to make sure the right steps are taken to manage the deceased’s accounts. First you should know that if your loved one died with debt, the estate is responsible for it. If the estate lacks the funds to repay it, no one else is obligated to pay it usually. There are a few exceptions: (1) If you co-signed a credit card or other type of credit account with the deceased, that account is also in your name and you’re legally obligated to repay the debt. Also, (2) if you had a joint credit account with the deceased meaning, it’s in both your names you’re obligated to repay. But you’re not obligated if you’re only listed as an authorized user. Now, all of that goes out the window if you live in a community property state where you’ll generally be required to repay some or all of your deceased loved one’s debts. (3) And one more instance where the surviving spouse might be responsible for the deceased spouse’s debt: where state law requires you to repay certain types of debt, such as medical expenses or debts related to a jointly owned home. Of course, if the deceased’s estate has the funds to repay his or her debts, you shouldn’t stand in the way of that but rather facilitate it however you can. Proverbs 3:27 says "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act." Even in cases where you’re not obligated to repay a loved one’s debts, you may feel responsible for it. If you feel God leading you in that direction and you have the funds to repay a debt, by all means do so, after careful consideration and prayer. Also, you may be contacted by debt collectors concerning your loved one’s outstanding accounts. If that happens, first confirm that the debt is actually owed. Then, if the estate has the funds, you can repay the debt (make sure you get a receipt) or you can refer the collector to the probate court overseeing execution of the will. Either way, the estate will be responsible for the debt. If you continue to be harassed by debt collectors, you can block debt collectors from contacting you by sending a letter demanding they stop contacting you. If collectors continue, they’re in violation of federal law and you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. However, keep in mind that this won’t eliminate debt that’s legitimately owed. Earlier, I mentioned that credit reports aren’t automatically closed when a person dies. The executor or personal representative (often the surviving spouse) has to make that happen by notifying the credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. They will then seal those reports and place a death notice on them. There are three steps to notifying a credit bureau about a loved one’s death: (1) Contact the bureau to find out what documentation you’ll need to submit. Generally this is the deceased’s legal name, Social Security number, date of birth and death, a copy of the death certificate and other legal documents. (2) Once you’ve gathered those papers, submit them to the credit bureau. Make sure to keep copies for yourself. The bureau will then freeze the deceased’s credit and prevent anyone from opening new accounts. Also, the bureau you contact will automatically notify the other two, so you only have to do this process once. (3) Finally, you’ll want to review the deceased's credit reports so you’re sure about all open accounts with creditors and lenders. You’ll want to do that with all three credit bureaus because they might not all list every account. So now you know what’s needed to manage a loved one’s credit accounts after death. If you’re ever in that situation and need help, you can find a godly estate attorney to assist you by visiting MoneyWise.org and clicking on Find a CKA. Here are just a few of your calls that we answered on today’s program: --What kind of counseling do you recommend for couples where one spouse is a saver and the other is more free and unplanned in their approach to finances? --Do you recommend adding a PIN number to my credit card? --How much money should I put aside each month to eventually purchase a home or a wedding, for example? Remember, you can call in to ask your questions most days at (800) 525-7000 or email them to [email protected] Also, visit our website at MoneyWise.org where you can connect with a MoneyWise Coach, purchase books, and even download free, helpful resources like the free MoneyWise app. Like and Follow us on Facebook at MoneyWise Media for videos and the very latest discussion! Remember that it’s your prayerful and financial support that keeps MoneyWise on the air. Help us continue this outreach by clicking the Donate tab on our website or in our app.
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