Hope for your financial life and beyond

4 Large and Small Nonprofits I Support Who Are Doing Incredible Work

Hidden Nuggets Series #63 – “Go and do likewise.” – Luke 10:37

When my wife and I developed a giving plan in an effort to be more intentional with our giving, we committed to do more than give regularly to our local church. Our first step was to discuss what each of us valued. We then tried to find non-profit organizations whose mission and execution of that mission connected with our values.

give In those discussions we concluded that one of our goals would be to always give to something locally or at least within our region. These donations would help keep us in touch with the needs of our community. They would most likely be to smaller organizations who could definitely use our support.

At the same time, we also wanted to support organizations with a global reach that would have the potential to impact tens of thousands of people. By doing this we felt some of our money could be leveraged by these bigger organizations so that it could have the greatest potential return on our giving investment.

As we enter the heart of the holiday season of the next couple of months, I’d like to encourage you to consider your year-end giving strategy. Non-profits everywhere will be serving people in need and none of that can happen without the support of donors like you and me.

To that end, I’d like to share some non-profits my wife and I have been connected to in our giving and ask you to consider how you might be able to help them, or one’s like them in your local community, fulfill their calling.

Samaritan’s Purse

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Give the Gift of Investing This Holiday Season

I’m happy to welcome today the Debt Free Guys. Enjoy their guest post on how the gift of investing may be the best present a child could receive this holiday season.

Christmas presents under the treeAmericans are expected to spend between 4 and 4.5 percent more this coming holiday season than in 2013 or $981 to $986 billion between November and January, excluding auto and gas sales. The lion’s share of that money is expected to be spent on technology, led by Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6+.

Already this month we’ve seen personal finance blogs with advice to manage expenses this holiday season. Expect to see lists of all sorts on financial blogs and websites, such as “25 Gifts Under $25”, “Gifts You Can Make” and “The Art of Re-Gifting”. We’ll kick off our 2014 holiday shopping advice to give the gift of investing this year.

There will be the exceptions, but most American children will have their fair share of gifts beautifully wrapped and lovingly placed under a Christmas tree or next to a menorah. They’ll excitedly un-wrap their gift, play with their new toy or wear the new piece of clothing, but eventually the gift will be forgotten. Some possibly forgotten before the day is over. Others will be forgotten by the end of the holiday season or a few months later. Even iPhones lose their luster after several months.

What won’t be forgotten is education. As we’ve discussed frequently at Debt Free Guys, we believe there is a gap in education in that kids don’t sufficiently learn enough about money management, saving and investing.

Educate the children in your life and give the holiday gift of life-long investing. There are three ways to do this.

Open a UTMA/UGMA Account

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Proof It’s the Thought That Counts

Hidden Nuggets Series #58 – “Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.” – Acts 11:29 

two penniesThe reign of Claudius Caesar, the fifth Emperor of Rome, was marked by a series of famines. Several touched the city of Rome, one occurred in Greece and another impacted the countryside of Judea in Israel. It is to the last famine listed that the Bible specifically speaks.

We are told that when this famine in Judea occurred, the leaders of the church decided to send assistance to the region. We can only assume this meant food and supplies, as money would have been quite useless during a time when there was so little to buy. Once accumulated, the supplies were sent to those in need by the hands of the missionaries Paul and Barnabas.

What’s remarkable is that there was no squabbling on who was sending what or how much. The Bible says each person determined to send relief “according to his ability.” In other words, people gave what they could – some gave more…others less.

Thus proving that when giving it’s the thought that counts.

Taking Their Cue From a Poor Widow

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8 Questions to Ask When Setting Up A Family Inheritance

family inheritanceIt’s hard enough to deal with the topic of our own death let alone what will happen to our possessions once we pass away. Setting up a family inheritance can get complex and technical.

The aftermath of what we do could lead to a potential mess as this 2012 article from Fox News demonstrates:

“Heirs of a wealthy New York art dealer were left a $65 million sculpture [named “Canyon”]…The bequest comes with a $29 million tax bill, but since the piece includes a stuffed eagle, it can’t be sold…federal law makes it a crime to possess, transport, sell or otherwise convey a bald eagle, whether it is alive or, as in this case, stuffed…placing a value on an item that cannot be sold is no easy feat. The venerable auction house Christie’s placed the value of “Canyon” at zero. The IRS initially put it at $15 million, then jumped the figure to $65 million…”

Most of us will never have to deal with numbers that large. But it’s no wonder we get confused with our heirs, the courts and the IRS to account for. It all seems like a big tangled mess.

So what should we do?

Well, the wrong answer is to ignore the wealth transfer process. With better planning the wealthy art dealer mentioned in the article above could have avoided placing this conflict in the lap of her family. Perhaps asking some relationship and technical questions would have eliminated some confusion and helped the inheritance pass with greater ease.

Family Inheritance Relationship Questions to Ask

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The Two-Faced Giver: When It Looks Like Rain It’s Supposed to Pour

Hidden Nuggets Series #45– “Whoever falsely boasts of giving is like clouds and wind without rain.” – Proverbs 25:14

the dark clouds of a thunderstormPopup thunderstorms dot the landscape of summertime. You know the kind that develop as the afternoon heat and humidity build. Atmospheric conditions can change quickly producing dark clouds and high winds. The next thing you know, a torrential downpour is watering your garden or causing gridlock on the roadways as you drive home from work.

When an entire weather system crosses through your area, it is obviously going to rain. The front can extend for hundreds of miles, drenching everything in its path. When we see the prediction of 100% rain on the morning news it’s easier to plan the day around the approaching weather. We anticipate and know almost for certain rain is going to come.

Not so with the pop up thunderstorm.

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God Wants the First Bite of Pie

Hidden Nuggets Series #42 – “Honor the Lord with your possession, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” – Proverbs 3:9-10

blueberry cheescake and hot coffeeEver let someone else take the first bite off a piece of your pie?

I don’t understand it but a psychological thrill ride occurs when I slide a fork through the tip of a triangular shaped slice of pie. It’s as though I’m embarking on a slow, taste sensation journey, the first step of which is to destroy the perfectly symmetrical geometric figure.

When someone else takes the first bite, the whole pie eating experience is diminished. The rest of the piece doesn’t taste quite the same. When I’m polite enough to let this happen, I’m totally bored eating the rest of it. It’s as though my mind is saying, “Eh…it’s just pie.”

A part of me is happy for the person I gave that first bite to. I know they appreciate it. The look of pleasure on their face as the piece dissolves in their mouth gives that away.

Deep down, I’m envious and selfish. It was my pie after all. Shouldn’t I enjoy the pleasures of the first bite?

That’s right…it’s all about my needs.

How can I stop thinking like that?

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The Crew at Modest Money Is Teaching Us a Big Lesson

 

Hidden Nuggets Series #38 – “…he who gives, with liberality…” – Romans 12:8

Logo from the personal finance blog Modest MoneyJeremy Biberdorf of ModestMoney.com is killing it. I know Jeremy only by his reputation in the personal finance blogosphere, a few casual emails and comments and the fact that he shares my content via Twitter. I’m thankful for his site though because he’s really helping personal finance bloggers out.

In case you are unaware, Jeremy has put together a Top Finance Blog List on his site. If you run a personal finance blog, you can submit it there and get listed/ranked versus other blogs based on your site’s traffic, social media reach and SEO quality. As of today there are 183 listed.

So why would he do this? I mean there are other well established lists out there at Wisebread and MoneyCrashers that do the same thing. Do we really need another one?

Well the obvious answer is that it helps drive traffic to and enhance his site. OK…I can buy that.

I’ve got a sense though there is a deeper issue here. There is something very generous about what he’s doing, allowing us to create a link on his well-established site. It feels “beyond-the-call-of duty-ish” – something he didn’t have to do, but maybe wanted to in order to help others out.

Whatever his reasoning, I still draw a big lesson from it. In the bigger picture for me, it reinforces the need to give and do so liberally. In my mind and my heart I know this concept. I simply tend to forget it.

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God’s Giving Nature Shines Brightest On Easter

Hidden Nuggets Series #37 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

a cross stands on a hill with a sunset in the backgroundDo you love to give? Ever wonder where that desire comes from?

I’m quite sure it’s a character quality God possesses Himself and bestowed on mankind during the days of creation so many years ago. The book of Genesis describes how we are created in His image. It would seem a logical conclusion that God passed on His giving nature to humanity during that creative process.

How can I be so confident God is an extreme giver? It’s because of verses from the Bible, like the most famous one of all:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

We see in this verse that God gave. He didn’t receive or take anything from us. He gave something very valuable so that humanity would get the chance at a relationship with Him. It’s such a staggering concept – giving up your only Son to die for the sins of mankind – it hardly makes sense. Never could you or I have come up with this kind of plan to bridge the gap between God and man.

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Richness Breeds Arrogance But There Is a Cure

Hidden Nuggets Series #35 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, read to give, willing to share…” I Timothy 6:17

Me

Pride goes before destruction

That wealth you are accumulating sure feels good, doesn’t it. Getting a little chesty over it? Feel like showing it off a just a wee little bit? C’mon admit it…we like to have others ooh-and-ah over our toys.

It’s nothing new…been going on since, oh the dawn of time. It was certainly an issue in the New Testament church. The rich were called out by the Apostle Paul to “not be haughty” over their wealth.

Why does wealth breed arrogance and show-offiness? What is it about dollars accumulating in our bank account that prompts us to look down on others who don’t possess as much? Where does this high and mighty attitude come from?

If I’m honest, it’s a spiritual issue rooted in my selfishness, my forgetfulness as to whose responsible for those riches and my ability to slip into confusion about what’s important in life.

Debunking One Myth About God

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3 Tips for Taking a Charitable Deduction on Your Taxes

The following is a guest post by Kim, otherwise known as Mrs. Luke1428. She is a CPA at Loggins, Kern & McCombs in Jonesboro, Georgia. The following is intended to be a general tax discussion and not tax advice. If you have questions about your specific situation, please consult a professional.

ID-10096025Feeling a little charity-minded? Here are some tips that may help you come tax time.

Do Not Give Simply For The Tax Benefit

I am making this the #1 tip because that is how strongly I feel about it. Giving should come from my heart and not because of any perceived benefit come tax time. It’s a spiritual issue for me based on teachings like this one from the Bible:

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” – II Corinthians 9:7

Knowing how to deduct the charitable gift on your taxes is important to make sure it is done right, but the tax benefit should not be the motivation for the gift. Suppose you can’t decide whether to give to a charity or to a person in need, and maybe you feel led to give to the individual person. Even though you can’t deduct gifts to individuals, the right thing to do is to give how your heart is leading you despite losing the deduction.

Keep Good Records For Cash Gifts

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Giving to Charity in Secret…Because It’s Not About Me

Hidden Nuggets Series #29 – “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory before me. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their rewards. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” – Matthew 6:2-4

giving to charityJesus was calling out some pretty crusty characters in the Bible verses I quoted above. The “hypocrites” he mentioned were actually the religious teachers of the time known as the Pharisees. Even though they were the church leaders, they were actually very poor spiritual role models. On this occasion, Jesus was blasting them for their practice of giving to charity openly for all to see.

The Pharisees would give only to get noticed. They would make sure people were watching them at church when they put their offering in the collection box. They looked down on people who didn’t give as much. One could even find them on the street corners bragging about how much they had given, even though it was a small percentage compared to their overall wealth.

To an outsider, their giving to charity looked very religious and sacrificial. Jesus saw right through the motives and exposed their hypocrisy. In reality, he said their purpose in giving was to gain status, power and the favor of men. Needless to say, they didn’t like Jesus much for saying this.

Think this still applies to us today? I do. It’s not like human nature has changed. We battle against the same self-seeking motivations that characterized the Pharisees.

Giving to Charity Privately

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