debt, loans

Financial Wisdom from the book of Proverbs

Thought I’d share a little ancient wisdom for you to ponder today.
  • “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.”  Proverbs 21:20  (NIV)
  • “The poor are always ruled over by the rich, so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power.'”  Proverbs 22:7  (MSG)
  • “Do not wear yourself out to get rich.  Have the wisdom to show restraint.”   Proverbs 23:4-5 (MSG)
  • “Don’t agree to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for someone else.  If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you.”   Proverbs 22:26-27 (NLT)
  • “Know your sheep by name; carefully attend to your flocks; (Don’t take them for granted; possessions don’t last forever, you know.) And then, when the crops are in and the harvest is stored in the barns, You can knit sweaters from lambs’ wool, and sell your goats for a profit; There will be plenty of milk and meat to last your family through the winter.”  Proverbs 27:23-27 (MSG)
  • “Committed and persistent work pays off; get-rich-quick schemes are ripoffs.”  Proverbs 28:20 (MSG)
debt, loans

Happy Holidays with no financial hangover

It’s that time of year.  The calendar page turns to November or maybe even December and we realize how few days remain until Christmas.  It’s not too late to plan for a merry holiday season paid for with cash!

This week, start by making a list of all the people whom you’d like to bless with a gift this season.  Keep it simple.  Start with your immediate family and set a dollar limit for each.  The dollar limit for each should be the amount that you are comfortable paying in cash.  Commit to keep your spending to that amount or less.

The next thing to plan for is holiday gatherings, both Thanksgiving,  Christmas and New Years.  Determine now the amount you can spend on potlucks at Aunt Susie’s, work parties and travel.

Once you’ve determined those two amounts, total up them up and divide it by the number of paydays you have between now and Christmas.  You may need to make adjustments.

Last, make a list of inexpensive or free gifts you could give.  Examples are homemade cookies, fudge, chocolate sauce, soup mixes, certificates for nights of babysitting, free car washes, or for a homemade dinner.  Look also for packs of items you could divide into several different gifts.  There are a multitude of ideas.  My personal favorite is Rachael Ray’s Five-Minute Fudge, inexpensive and absolutely delicious!  One recipe can be divided into 4 different gifts depending on the pan you use.

By making a plan and sticking to a preset budget, you can have a merry holiday season with no financial regrets later.

debt, loans

Musing today about America’s young families

My bedside table is stacked high with books for me to get to, but lately those that are holding my interest have a lot to do with money. Not the love of it, mind you, but how we as a country have gotten to the point where families are staggering under a mountain of credit card debt, student loans, car payments and so on.

We’re beginning a new ministry at Calvary called the Money Mentors. This team of eight will be available soon to help people get back on track financially in private sessions. So in preparation for this new ministry, I have been doing a lot of outside reading. Two books which have moved off the tables and into my hands and brain are Linda Kelley’s Two Incomes and Still Broke? It’s Not How Much You Make, It’s How Much You Keep and Tamara Draut’s well-researched tome’, Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-somethings Can’t Get Ahead.

Strapped, while I am still reading it, has already provided some food for thought. My older children face the issues she addresses. According to her book, The average college student borrows $20,000 for a bachelors degree, while the average graduate student accumulates $46,000. And low-income students and students of color take on even more. Federal grants for student aid have rapidly declined since the 1980’s and now federal help for college comes mainly in the form of loans.

In addition, according to a Nellie Mae study (one of the Sallie Mae student loan companies), the average college senior had six credit cards and an average balance of just over $3,200 in 2002. College students are heavily marketed to by the various credit card companies. The top 300 state schools in the country received $1 billion from the credit card companies in marketing arrangements.

It’s a depressing financial picture, isn’t it? You are starting your new life as an adult already deeply in debt. Putting those two debts together, debt load for new college graduates could easily reach $25,000 eating away 40 – 60% of the income from the new job. Add on to that the new car, the furniture for the new apartment and you’re drowning in debt within no time!

Draut also points out that Gen Xers and Milennials have mostly retreated from the political arena so there is no one pushing for economic reform for this age group. Instead, congress is being lobbied by the credit card companies who made almost $8,000,000 in political contributions in the 2004 election cycle.

More to come…..