Hope for your financial life and beyond

Learning to Love the Unlovable and Your Enemies (Luke 6:35)

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great…” – Luke 6:35

I can easily love my wife. She is precious to me. So are my kids. They have no problem getting and receiving my love. Others who treat me well? Same thing.

love your enemies

Let’s face it, some people are simply more like us – in appearance, in personality, in cultural heritage, in matters of faith, etc. We are attracted to this familiarity and sameness. It gives us comfort and calms us, knowing there are people who we can always rely on and identify with.

When we develop a natural, positive connection with our kind of people, showing love towards them is not difficult. It’s easier to act appropriately around them and demonstrate love to them because we see the world as they do. For our people, we would sacrifice much. If they were in need, we’d come to their aid without hoping for or expecting anything in return.

After all, not only do we like them and treat them well, they like us and treat us well. How could you not love someone like this?

I expect those in Jesus’ day felt much the same way. So it must have shocked their system when Jesus told them to love your enemies” and show acts of love to those they considered unlovable. Can you imagine the expressions in the crowd when he said these words?

You mean, love those people? They are not anything like me. Love your enemies? That’s even harder than loving those who are not like me. Why would I love those who hate me?

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Consider the Ant in Your Definition of Work Ethic (Proverbs 6:6)

“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.” That verse from Proverbs 6:6 contains an odd word we rarely use today – sluggard. The first thing I think of when hearing that word are creeping, slimy slugs. So sticky and definitely no fun to hold.

consider the antYou may not identify with that word. But you could easily understand what a sluggard is if I gave you some synonyms. How do these words grab you – lazy, sluggish, loafer, slacker and couch potato. Get the picture now?

God has a lot to say about the lazy in the pages of the Bible. This particular passage in Proverbs may be the best known of them all. I think mostly because it tells us to “consider the ant” – an animal we hardly ever pay attention to.

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How to Determine If People Really Want Help With Money

I have been interested in personal finance for quite some time now and love to help with money. I could teach the subject and dish out solid advice for hours. In fact, that’s what I do at my full-time job as high school economics and personal finance teacher. Teaching my students satisfies my appetite on the topic of money.

help with moneyThe funny thing though is, in everyday life, I rarely get into conversations about money.

Why?

Because people rarely ask. Every once in a while someone will approach the subject because they know my interest in it. But not often.

And even more rare are those times when I bring up the subject to someone else. I even resist when I see them making a poor personal finance decision. I’ve learned that when I initiate conversations about money it doesn’t go well.

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What Does God Prescribe for the Handling of Your Personal Finances?

The Bible has a lot to say when it comes to managing our lives in a more wholesome way. Money has always influenced the way people live. However, it does not mean that it should affect the kind of people we are at heart.

If you’ve grown up in a Christian household, you may have heard it said “Practice contentment and don’t covet other people’s stuff” (derived from Exodus 20:17). But the world around us usually says otherwise in the way that it tries to sell us material things by making us want them through various advertisements.

In the modern age, our finances can be affected by just a click of a button. It makes you wonder how we can manage that power and have better control over our finances. Many books have been written and careers made based on the popularity and demand for such help. 

Additionally though, people can and should turn to see the nuggets of advice that the Bible has to offer about how to manage your finances. Here is a quick guide to help us explore what the Bible says about money. 

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Buyer Beware: Renting a Car With a Debit Card

For a significant portion of our adult life, my wife and I chose to live without the use of a credit card. 99% of the time we had no issues when it came to making purchases. We would simply use our debit card or pay with cash when making a transaction. The one major instance where we had difficulty was when renting a car with a debit card.

renting a car with a debit cardWe ran into trouble twice with this type of transaction and in both cases it nearly had us stuck. The worst of those moments was on our vacation to Yellowstone. It nearly cost us our trip.

My wife is an incredible trip planner. She can research and organize a trip with such precision I hardly have to pay attention. The most I end up doing in the trip-planning phase is giving minor advice and approval to her vacation to-do requests.

So when researching for our trip, she had the chance to save $700 on our rental car for the week. That was a no-brainer. “Heck, yeah” I said. “Book that!”

My wife is member of the AICPA (the American Institute of CPAs). As a member she is entitled to discounts with companies with whom the AICPA has an affiliation. One such company is Hertz.

She did all the fine-print reading ahead of time and found out Hertz does accept debit cards for rental car purchases. The one caveat is they require a credit check before releasing the car. That should have raised a red flag for us. However, it just didn’t click in our brains. We just missed it.

So we booked a minivan with Hertz two months prior to leaving and didn’t give it another thought. Until we got to the Cody, Wyoming airport.

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How to Resolve the What Career Should I Have Dilemma

Have you ever asked the question, What career should I have?  If so, you know the answer isn’t that obvious. Coming to a decision about what career bests fits you can be quite a dilemma, no matter if you are right out of high school or in your mid-30s looking for a career change.

what career should i haveIt sure was a challenge for me.

After I graduated high school, everyone wanted to know what I was going to study in college. I didn’t know. So I just told everyone I’d be taking my general education requirements first and decide on a degree track later. Seemed like the wise thing to do instead of getting into a major I didn’t like and then needing to make a change to something else.

In the end, I chose psychology and counseling as a course of study. I didn’t know where that would ultimately take me later in life. All I knew at the time was that it matched up with my personality, my ability to listen and my desire to help people.

My chosen field of study didn’t lead me to a counseling career per se. After grad school, I ended up in education, first as a teacher and then as a principal at a small private school. While I wasn’t counseling in the strictness definition of the word, my education did prepare me in a lot of ways for things you face when dealing with families and kids. But was it the right choice?

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Encouraging Bible Verses for the Dark Times of Life

We’ve all had some dark times in life. Times when we felt like not going on. Times that hurt, that didn’t make sense and when all hope was lost. And when these occur, turning to God and reading some encouraging Bible verses can help.

encouraging bible versesThere is no question in difficult times we need to be lifted up.  But often we don’t know where to turn. Even those close to us like friends and family may not be able to help in the way we need.

Fortunately, there is One to whom we can always turn. God, through His words, has given us many encouraging Bible verses to which we can look and draw hope and comfort. They can inspire us even in the midst of life’s turmoil.

One of the best books to turn to for encouraging Bible verses is Psalms. King David wrote a good portion of that book and evidently he really needed some encouragement. He was routinely calling out to God to give him help, strength and joy in the midst of life’s trials.

Like this one from Psalm 84:11, which happens to be one of my favorites I wrote about,

“For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Being our light and our protector through the tough times is just a taste of what God has to offer. There are many more encouraging Bible verses from David in Psalms and from the other Bible writers. Our hope is that they encourage you to face what life has placed in your path.

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Personal Finance Items You Must Evaluate Once a Year

When was the last time you took inventory of your personal finances? It’s so easy to get things set in place and then just ignore them. Who really wants to continually review all the facets of personal finance anyway? It takes so much time.

personal financeWell, here is the thing – the pace of life is fast. Because of that, it’s easy to let things slip by. When it comes to money, you may be missing out on opportunities to improve on the things you have in place and save money in the process.

And the more you save, the more you can invest and consequently, grow your wealth.

Furthermore, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t take as much time as you think to do a thorough review. It will be worth it compared to the consequences that might come should you miss something important.

The idea of taking inventory of your financial life is not new. King Solomon in the Bible was the wisest man who ever lived.  In the book of Proverbs he wrote this:

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.” (Prov. 27:23-24)

So, we cannot assume just because something was once a good deal, a smart investment or a solid financial goal that it will continue to be so. Our life circumstances change.  So we should be on the cutting edge of awareness about these matters.

With that being said, here are the five key areas of personal finance that my wife and I review at least once a year.

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What Can I Do to Have a Better Chance at Getting a Mortgage Approval in 2021?

If you’re an aspiring homeowner, then you probably understand how challenging it is to qualify for a mortgage. Many lenders have introduced stringent measures in an effort to cushion themselves from the economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. Despite interest rates being at a record low, borrowers are still struggling to get their mortgages approved.

However, there are several tips you can follow to get your mortgage application approved without too much hassle. For starters, you need to find a quality lender, who you will feel comfortable with leaving the process in their hands. In fact, for our Canadian readers, you can get remarkably affordable mortgages from Altrua. Regardless, whether you’d like to get a second mortgage, lower your rate or simply recalculate payments, there are many lenders in your area where you can go to find a good rate.

So, what do you look for when choosing a mortgage lender? These five areas stand out above all others: 

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FACT: The Rich Rule Over the Poor and the Borrower is Slave to the Lender ― Proverbs 22:4

The society we live in today revolves around being in and remaining in debt. Don’t believe me? In the early 1900s, most people owned their house with no mortgage

what does the bible say about debtIt wasn’t until after WWII that debt became a more popular way to make purchases when loan requirements were loosened and lenders became protected by federal law. When the opportunity for mortgages expanded, debt went through the roof. 

At the beginning of 2020, more than 50% of Americans make just enough money to pay their bills each month. If something were to happen and they missed a paycheck, some of their bills wouldn’t be paid that month. In fact, 40% of Americans can’t cover $400 in the case of an emergency.

The questions regarding debt that are the most important have nothing to do with what others are doing or thinking. For Christians, it is important to ask what the Bible says about debt

The four most important lessons the Bible teaches about debt are:

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Living is Worth the Risk – So Choose to Live!

Ugh…Wow! That’s the basic starting point for describing 2020 to most people. A year that FDR might say will live in infamy. If you would have told me in December of 2019 that for most of the next year we’d debate whether leaving our homes or not was worth the risk, I would not have believed you.

worth the riskYet here we are at the close of 2020 and there are some who have not left their homes since February to protect themselves from contracting COVID19.

There are so many angles people have pursued and will continue to pursue to try and make sense of what happened this year. There will be facts, there will be opinions, there will be misdirection and there will be suspicion. And all of it fueled with emotions we know so well – fear, anger, frustration, anxiety, confusion, sadness and helplessness. Who hasn’t felt at least one of those at some level in 2020?

And yet, despite all the downside this year has brought, I had a thought several months ago while driving with my family that I have not been able to escape. It gave me perspective on how to handle my life in a world consumed with risk. It showed me there is a better path than the one governed by fear.

The thought was a basic one. Put simply, my mind told me this – “Living is worth the risk.” Here is what that means to me.

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