Top 10 ways to know God can trust you financially

10) No matter
your income, broke is a state of mind. 
Whether
you make $5.00 per hour or $5000.00 per hour, handle your money, do not allow
your money to handle you.
9)   Give. Be generous with your time and your finances.  Whether you teach a Sunday school class,
give to your local little league, or contribute to your local soup kitchen, be
generous. “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many
days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1.
8)   Save. 
No matter how much or how little you make, save something. There is
no excuse for not saving.  The reason
most people cannot save is because they are too busy trying to keep up with the Jones’s.  There are so many discount
stores around these days, anyone can look like a million bucks for less!
7)  Bless someone.  If you feel lead to give something to
someone, or even pay for their meal, do it. 
It does not matter how much you think they are worth.  Indeed, it does not matter if they are a
multi-millionaire and you are not. See the scripture above in number nine. Of
course, make sure your ‘blessing’ is done from the right place in your
heart.  If you are doing it out of guilt
or pride it will not work out.
6) Don’t hate.  Just as I mentioned above in number seven, it
does not matter how much a person has or how much you think they have, offer.  It can be done without insulting them, it is
a matter of being nice. Allow them the choice to accept or not.
5) Learn from
your financial mistakes. 
Everyone
has made financial mistakes.  The key is
to learn from those mistakes, and not repeat them. It may be tempting to repeat
something expecting a different outcome, but trust me, the outcome will be the
same.
4) Ask for
help. 
Most employers offer
retirement savings plans as part of an employee’s compensation package.  With the retirement savings plan, typically a
401k or 403b; the company your employer hires to manage your 401k offers free
assistance.  They can help you choose
what mutual fund(s) to invest your 401k or 403b contributions.  The tools are there, do your research and be
ready for retirement.   The government is
not going to help you get ready for retirement.
3) Pay
attention to the world around you. 
No
matter how you feel about it, we live in a global village.  Everyone is affected by everyone else.  Know what is going on in the world around
you.  You do not have to be a
professional financial person, news hound, or fluent in multiple
languages.  Just be aware.
2) Know your
financial weaknesses. 
And act
accordingly. Make a grocery list so that you do not spend double what you
wanted to. Go clothes shopping at your planned time.  Some people buy clothes twice a year.  Or maybe you are shopping for a special
occasion.  If not, stay out of the stores
if you do not have the will power to ‘just browse’.

1) Know how to wait or to live without.  Stop using your credit card for your
wants, and recognize the difference between wants and needs.  If you do not take control of your finances,
you are only sabotaging yourself and your future.  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know
what it is to have plenty.  I have
learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well
fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12.  When God sees you doing your best with your
finances, he will trust you with more.  Leave
the Jones’s alone!  

There’s no free lunch!

In the financial Services industry, at least here in The United States, there is a saying that ‘there is no free lunch!’  In other words you cannot get anything for free.  Typically, if someone offers or gives you something, they want something in return even if they say they do not.  This ingrained thought process, mentality, of ‘no free lunch’, is not necessarily bad; it is a form of self-protection.  Because of this thought process however, many people do not know how to accept a true and pure gift.  People have gotten used to ‘being had’ or ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’.  When they have been given a gift in the past, the giver may have mentioned the gift months or even years later.  The giver is now wanting to collect on the gift they initially said they did not want anything for in return. 

The fact remains however, that there are many people on this earth who love to give out of a pure heart, asking for nothing in return.  As a giver, I would like to offer some tips on how to give and how to receive.  These tips when practiced, will protect both parties, the giver and the receiver.  Please keep in mind that giving does not pertain to just money, it pertains to tangible as well as intangible gifts.

1).  Think before you do.  If you give whenever people ask, or even if they do not ask, people will perceive that ‘your hand is free’.  In other words, they will believe that you have a lot (of money) and you will hand out gifts at will.  In my opinion, whether or not you are a wealthy individual, it is never a good idea to give at will.  If you do, word will get around and you may be approached by absolute strangers.  I will discuss this more in the next point.

2). Use common sense in your giving.  If you are a Christian, you should pray for, and exercise the spirit of discernment.  Deuteronomy 28-29 says ‘They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them.  If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!’  The context of these verses is that God was angry at His people because they had turned their backs on him, and turned to other gods.  The people were not discerning or understanding how God felt about this.  We cannot turn our back on God and do our own thing, even in something as ‘simple’ as giving.  Discernment is that one extra step you take when deciding whom to give to, when, how, and how much.  I will talk more about that later.  

3).  People who have the gift of giving tend to be soft-hearted.  There is nothing wrong with having a soft heart, but it had better be surrounded by a discerning mind and common sense.  This does not mean that the giver should become mean-spirited and un-giving.  To become such a person is just the opposite of the personality-type of a giver, and it is un-Godly.  The fact is, God wants us to exercise common sense.  He is not the author of confusion and He does not want us to be confused. 

4).  The left hand should not know what the right hand is doing.   When you give, there is no need to make an announcement.  ‘“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”–Matthew 6:1-4.  The bottom line is, not even your close friends and family need to know what you are doing.  You would have already spoken with Jesus, your closest friend, and He would have given you the OK to give.  In fact, He may have spoken to you to give.  If you want your gift to count for charitable giving tax purposes, by all means, write that check.  If it is cash, make sure the receiving organization gives you a receipt and is aware you will be claiming the gift on your taxes. In fact, ask for a receipt whether it is cash or check.  The key: there is no need to make a big deal.

5).  Some people do not know how to accept gifts.  If you want to give a small gift you will not claim on your taxes, you just feel lead to give someone a small gift; I suggest you still speak to God about it and ask Him for discernment.  This is because some people are dealing with underlying issues such as pride and they do not know how to simply say ‘thank you’.  I have witnessed this with my own eyes.  Do not let this type of experience keep you from giving in the future, learn from your experience and let God direct you.  This is why I keep bringing up the importance of discernment.  God will tell you to whom to give, and even to whom not to give.  If you acted without discernment because you heard someone crying broke or just having a financial difficulty and you attempted to give them a small gift, these same people could still become prideful and may even attempt to embarrass you.  

6).  Many givers are not wealthy.  Most givers are not rich or wealthy people.  Givers are people who operate out of a budget just like everyone else.  The difference is that givers include giving in their budget.  Giving is not an afterthought for people who love to give.  Givers are comfortable with not spending the extra money on a toy for themselves, and giving the money to someone, or some organization. The bottom line is this:  we are all wired differently.  Some people like to give and some have to work on the giving aspect of their personality. Because we all have different gifts and strengths, we must ask God to direct us and grow us in the area of giving.    

7). Finally, use common sense.  If you see someone on the side of the road with a can asking for money, you will not have time to stop and ask God for discernment.  You should have already prayed to God for discernment.  You should already know what you will do in that situation.  If your pastor is asking for a special offering, you should already know if that is the church for you and that your special offering will be used wisely.  Sitting in the pew squirming about what to do, wondering why they’re always asking for money, is not the time to try to make a decision.  God is not the author of confusion.  Ask Him for help and discernment not only in giving, but in every aspect of your life. Amen!

The fiscal cliff

What I am about to say will seem harsh to some and true to others.  We should be ready for the fiscal cliff whether or not it happens.  As Americans we should be more financially prepared for whatever comes down the pike than we usually are.  Unfortunately this type of thinking comes later in life after we have made most of our financial mistakes and are in the midst of fixing, or ‘repairing’ those mistakes. 

One of my favorite phrases lately is ‘you don’t know what’s coming down the pike.’  Since no one knows what’s coming down the pike, we must save accordingly.  I have discussed this in previous posts but I cannot say it enough.  No matter how much or how little we make, we must put something away for a rainy day.  In these days of rampant layoffs, downsizing or demotions, and  multiple job changes during our working years; we have to find a way to stay ahead of the curve, or the mayhem that ensues when a sudden financial loss occurs in our lives. 

It is only a matter of time for each of us to hit a terrible financial roadblock, something we did not see coming.  American society has gone through some serious financial changes since 2008 when the housing bubble burst, uh, exploded.  Some of us have considered our financial ways, but many people still want to keep up with the Joneses, overspend, and live above our means.  But what happens when that unexpected pink slip is so kindly handed to us and we do not have three to six months saved for a rainy day?

I am not trying to spread doom and gloom, I am spreading hope.  We can maintain our own hope by exercising common sense in our spending, the amount of debt we allow ourselves to carry, and paying attention to the signs and to the times.  Too many of us are crashing and burning financially every time a pink slip is handed out.  Let us maintain more control over what happens to us financially if or when we are sent packing whether it is being released from our job or if our tax burden increases because we go over the fiscal cliff, which some have mentioned is actually a fiscal slope. 

Slope or cliff, we must not be afraid but do the best we can with what we have, what we have been given. 

What’s going on!?

Just when things seemed to be turning around for the markets, at least here in the U.S., the Dow–Dow Jones Industrials dropped sharply and closed down over 200 points a few days before this article was written.  Depending on where and how your money is invested, you felt the down turn directly, or indirectly.  In some cases, again due to in what you are invested, you may not have felt the down turn at all.  To keep it simple and to make my point fo this post however, I will talk to those who felt the down turn.  What do you do when you take such a sharp hit?  Most people believe you hang on for the ride just like in past times when the Dow, and just about any other of the averages, have tanked and then turned around.  That’s what the markets do, they go up and they go down;  but when you average things out over a number of years, you would have ended up making money on your investments.  Patience and research are the key.  And of course if you don’t know what you are doing, talk to someone who does, a professional.
Why am I saying all of this? Because no matter how much we have or do not have, life will go on.  If we do not die first, we will all age.  Are you ready to age?  Are you ready to retire? Have you been wondering what Medicare and Social Security will look like by the time you retire?  I think everyone should give some serious thought to these questions.  In the meantime, I strongly suggest that everyone take part somehow, in what your financial picture will look like.  How do you do this? By taking part in your company’s 401k or 403b plan; or whatever type of retirement plan your employer, uh, employs.  If your company does not offer any of these things, start your own savings plan.  If you are not the saving type, have your bank help you by putting your money in an account where it’s not so easy to touch that money. 
I am simply suggesting that you do something to positively affect your financial future, now.  Don’t wait and don’t hope that everything will be OK.  I have mentioned in previous articles that it does not matter how much you make, you can get your finances in order and you can save something, even if it’s just five dollars per pay check.  Whether you are making minimum wage or you are a company CEO, take part in your future.  You will be glad you did it. 

Are you fit?

Just like many of us fight the seemingly uphill battle to remain physically fit, we must fight to remain financially fit.  I have spoken on this subject before and I will speak on it in the future not only because part of the title of my blog is ‘finance’, but because financial fitness is important. 
Financial fitness does not mean we have to be filthy rich or even strive to be filthy rich. If it happens though, so much the better.  Financial fitness means that we have something saved for a rainy day. It means we  at least have something saved for an emergency.  Many of us have heard that we should have three to six months of reserve in case we lose our jobs. I believe we should work towards this goal, but the reality is many people are still suffering from job loss, lost homes, ruined credit, and the feeling that they will never make it back from financial ruin.     
The fact is though, many people have come back from financial ruin.  Many of the wealthy, well-to-do people we hear about or watch on television or read about in the news, have lost everything and made it back.  Want some names? Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Michael Jackson, to name a few.
What will be your legacy?  Will you start over? Will you try again?  These people did.
Financial fitness is not rocket science, just like exercise is not rocket science.  In exercise you have choices: join a gym, pay monthly or annual fees, and work out before or after work.  Hey, you can even work out during your lunch time. You may choose not to join a gym and do your own thing.  I walk 30 minutes, three times per week. Oh I’m not talking about leisurely walks in the park, I’m talking sweat drenched, fancy sneaker-wearing, bug spray from head to toe because I live in Florida types of walks.  Whatever it takes to keep the weight off.
Just so in financial fitness. You should save a portion of your paycheck, whether its $5.00 or 5%.  There really are no excuses.  You do not need to worry about financial charts, quantitative easing, or portfolio diversification.  Don’t use that as an excuse. You can save whether you work at a burger joint or whether you manage a Fortune 500 company.  That’s the great thing about America: it’s really up to you, no excuses.  I know, some people are born in the negative, products of a bad start because of where they live or the circumstances under which they were born.  It doesn’t matter, choose.  Choose to be financially fit.  Just like exercise, it will pay off in the long run.

http://www.thesunsfinancialdiary.com/personal-finance/5-famous-people-beat-bankruptcy/

Money makes the world go round

We all know how the current financial conditions have affected almost everyone in our country and around the world.  People have lost jobs, homes, cars, and savings.  Life looks bleak and for some there will be no way to recoup their losses, at least not to what they had before the financial nightmare happened.  Most people believe the financial breakdown started in 2008  and I would agree, to a point. The financial breakdown showed its face to us in 2008 but it did not begin in 2008. 
Like any problem or issue in life such as the current financial conditions, they do not just pop up, or ‘happen’.  Bad things were happening long before 2008.  Mortgage brokers and bankers were approving bad loans long before 2008.  Buyers were shopping for and being approved for homes they really could not afford, and the stock market, well the stock market was just going through a typical cycle. 
The fact is, everything, including life, is cyclical.  If you are old enough to look back over the last 20 or 30 years of your life you will see that even your individual life was cyclical.  You made it through the tough times that occurred even when those tough times happened at the hand of someone other than yourself.  The financial loss you may have suffered since 2008, made you either sink or swim.  If you swam and did not sink, it should have taught you how to ‘live a new normal’.  What is a new normal? Learning to live on quite a bit less than you used to, and appreciating the fact that you have a job.  This includes having to live without certain  things that you may have previously taken for granted, and having the best possible attitude about your changed situation.

The fact is, there may be days when you may feel sorry for yourself, but you get over it and keep pushing through until things turn around.  You learn how to brew your own coffee at home instead of stopping for that daily $4 cup on the way to work.  You learn how to make your own lunch instead of paying between $5 and $10 per day for lunch. You play little games like treating yourself to lunch once or twice per month or buying yourself a little treat here and there to help you keep your chin up.
Two important thing to do during this time though, is to never give up and to keep putting something away for yourself in savings and in retirement.  It sounds crazy because you may have just lost everything, but the fact is, life goes on.  You cannot make the excuse 20 or 30 years from now that you could not save anything because there was a crash in 2008.  You may have been able to save $5,000.00 per year before your life crashed and can now only save $2,000, $1,000.00, or even $500.00. You cannot live off the crash of 2008, you cannot live off of the pitfalls of life,  but you can live off of doing the best you can with what you have left.  And who knows, because just like the market, life is cyclical, your new normal may be the best thing that ever happened to you.

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