Hope for your financial life and beyond

If You Give Like This God Will Be Laughing

Hidden Nuggets Series #91 – “So let each of you give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” – II Corinthians 9:7

For some it’s the most boring part of the Sunday morning worship service. We think the preaching is OK and the music is fine. We even tolerate the meet and greet. But this 2-3 minute event many would just assume skip like the commercials on a DVR.

god loves a cheerful giverWhat am I referring to?

The moment when we give money to the church, otherwise known as the offering.

There are varying reactions to the offering, depending on your background. When I was growing up it was like halftime. Our Sunday morning equation followed this pattern: music – announcements – offering – more serious music – message – benediction (i.e. endless stanzas of “Just As I Am”).

So for me it was a break in the service. I’d spend the three minutes whispering to my friends, going to the bathroom or checking out the cute girl in pew three. Anything but giving.

As the teen years passed into early adulthood, some maturity began to take hold. I realized the value in these moments that take place during the service and did my best to honor them. But at times I’d still get mixed up in the wrong feelings and motivations about giving, feelings that I know are common with believers.

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How Science Proves That Tithing Is Linked to Success and Happiness

Please welcome blogger Anum Yoon as she shares her thoughts on the personal and spiritual benefits of tithing.

Hidden Nuggets Series #86 – “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)

tithingGiving away 10% of your income will lead to success and happiness. Sounds like the start of a scam, doesn’t it?

For centuries, Christians have committed to the counter-cultural practice of tithing (giving 10% of your money to the church, charity or missions). Although the secular world thought it crazy, Christians understood the true blessings that come from financial obedience to God.

In an unexpected turn of events, recent scientific studies have proven these blessings, showing empirically that tithing is linked to happiness and success.

Tithing Brings a Better Mood

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5 Reasons to Shift Charitable Giving Away from the Holidays

When do you usually conduct your charitable giving? As we see in today’s post, one company learned the holidays might not always be the best time to give.

donate to charityMid-October was plenty early enough to put together a holiday charity drive for a local homeless shelter … right? My co-workers and I thought so. We had dozens of willing hands and a substantial amount of money collected to buy food, gifts, and personal necessities for shelter residents.

Caught Up in the Giving Season

Visions of doing good works danced in our heads. We saw ourselves buying gifts, hauling in food, and serving dinner to shelter residents. We figured that the shelter’s director would do a happy dance when we told her how we wanted to help. How often did donations of this size just drop in her lap?

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Finding Balance in the Holiday Gifting Madness

Are you having trouble dealing with the pressure and the obligation to buy presents during the holidays? Please welcome Jacob from Cash Cow Couple as he shares his thoughts and offers some solutions to the matter.

dog with scarf laying on a pillow,

Do you feel pressure to even give a gift to your dog this Christmas?

When I had been dating my wife just a few months, I told her that I sometimes refuse to participate in select American holidays. I expressed my opinion that people shouldn’t feel obligated to spend, buy, or gift things. Ever.

She probably thought I was a little odd at the time (it’s OK, I am), but I explained my reasoning and things worked out for us. It’s not that I refuse to participate in many holidays because we can’t afford it. Or because I think holidays are bad. Or because I don’t enjoy a good celebration with family and friends.

I hate it because much of the practice has become forced. There is a ton of great marketing and artificially-generated pressure to “buy something” or to “do something.”

The result is that many individuals regularly attend family gatherings, birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, Easter celebrations, Halloween celebrations, and a million other celebrations, and feel obligated to give gifts or spend money. That’s the wrong reason entirely.

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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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