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Monthly Net Worth Checkpoint: April 2009 (Up?!?)

April 24, 2009 · Filed Under Net Worth · 4 Comments 
Cash + Money by Terence Chang

Well, for the first time in many months our net worth has actually increased!  Not only that, it increased quite a bit.  What is driving this increase?  The same thing that drove the decreases in previous months….the stock market.  The market ticked upward a bit last month and as a result, I saw a gain in overall net worth.  I do not think this means the market has stabilized and will now go upward for a while, however.  I think there will be a lot more volatility ahead…but who knows (that’s why I don’t try to day trade and time the market).

Our assets increased more than 4.6%

All of our holdings increased this past month with the exception of the house value which continues its downward descent.  Our cash accounts increased more than 14% due mainly to our tax refunds.  Our stock market exposure really led the way though – our taxable accounts were up more than 26%, our retirement plans gained 15%, our college savings plan increased almost 35%, and my stock options saw almost a 60% gain.

Our liabilities decreased 0.5%

Our liabilities dropped the typical monthly rate of 0.5%.. I have not done anything tangible related to accelerating our mortgage payment yet.  For now, I am putting money into Vanguard mutual funds….maybe someday I can use that and the stock options to pay down the mortgage, but that remains a long way off.

Our net worth bounced back more than 15%

After last month’s 13% drop, a gain of 15% is a nice turnaround.  Basically, we are back to where we were at the beginning of the year (though that is still 20% lower than our net worth peak during the middle of last year).  I’m hopeful that we have been building up some financial potential energy during the past few low stock market months.  By continuing to buy stocks and mutual funds at reduced prices, when the market recovers that will translate into big gains to our net worth (that’s the plan anyway – as I’ve said before, I can’t predict the future so I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out).

Photo Credits: Smile My Day

Events this Week: Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall for Hope and Thrivent’s Teach Your Kids to Share Day

April 21, 2009 · Filed Under Random · Add a Comment 
Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope

There are a couple of events coming up this week that you might want to check out.

Town Hall For Hope

From TownHallForHope.com: Tired of hearing the fear, doom and gloom that’s filling the airwaves? Join Dave Ramsey for a nationwide town hall meeting and discover what’s happening with the economy, how we got here, and where we’re going.

If that piques your interest, then check out Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall for Hope.  This is a free event that will take place on Thursday, April 23rd at 8 PM eastern time.  You can watch it at one of the many locations throughout the country to which it will be broadcast.

Dave will spend the first 30 minutes or so discussing the current state of the economy and will then answer questions from viewers live for the next hour.  If you are interested in attending, check out Dave’s TownHallForHope site for more information on the event, FAQs, and a tool to find places near you that will broadcast the event.

Thrivent Financial’s Teach Your Kids to Share Day

Another event that might interest those with young kids or grandkids ages 6-10 is Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Teach Your Kids to Share Day taking place on Friday, April 24.  This event will focus on learning of the importance of a values-based approach to money management.  Some info from the site:

Together, families will:

  • Explore ways kids can share, save and spend.
  • Discuss the importance of being responsible with money.
  • Build a financial foundation for children that will last a lifetime.

This event costs $10 which includes dinner, activities, educational materials and "stuff to take home!"  In light of the dearth of financial education that our children learn in school (the extent of my personal financial education was learning how to write a check), this is a worthwhile topic to teach to your kids and this event sounds like a good way to get a little education on it.  To find a location near you, check out this page .

For full disclosure, Thrivent Financial is a faith-based, not-for-profit membership organization that provides financial services.  Frankly, I don’t know a whole lot about the organization but it does sound like a worthwhile event and this dislaimer is on their site:"This event is open to adults (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) and children ages 6–10. You do not have to be a member of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. No products or services will be sold."  Read more about Thrivent Financial here.

Weekly Bible Verse – Our Ability to Earn Money comes from God

April 20, 2009 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 5 Comments 

Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.  Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (ESV)

Once we start to accumulate wealth and "stuff," it’s quite easy to become enamored with ourselves and our "power and might."  I think that this is especially true in a culture like the US today where we value independence and we stress that you can accomplish anything you want to by working hard.  Of course, this is not unique to modern day culture.  We see throughout the Old Testament where the Israelites repeatedly followed this pattern of being blessed materially by God and then forgetting that God was the source of their abundance.  So try to remember today that even if you have worked hard for your accomplishments, it is still God who instilled you with your gifts, talents, and the drive and ability to work hard.

God bless and have a great week…

Today is US Tax Day and TEA Party Day

April 15, 2009 · Filed Under Random · 2 Comments 

Well, it’s that dreaded day here in the US – April 15th (usually)….TAX DAY!
So, FYI, if you haven’t filled out your tax returns and mailed them in (or at least filed an extension), I’d suggest that you go ahead and get that started  Here are some last minute reminders from the IRS site.

If you’re mailing it, remember that your tax return is considered filed on time if you get it postmarked today (a tip from usps.com : Use First-Class Mail® postage. The IRS recognizes the First-Class Mail letter postmark as proof that a return has been mailed on time).  A number of post offices stay open late to make that easier to accomplish.  Check out the USPS post office locator to find the number for your post office and give them a call to see how late they’re staying open on tax day today. (Their site claims you can see which post offices have extended hours today but I couldn’t find that info while looking…so just give them a call)

While on the topic of taxes…

Today is also TEA Party Day.  TEA = Taxed Enough Already.  Here are some highlights from the Official Tax Day TEA Party site (or so it names itself):

Are you fed up with a Congress and a president who:

  • vote for a $500 billion tax bill without even reading it?
  • are spending trillions of borrowed dollars, leaving a debt our great-grandchildren will be paying?
  • consistently give special interest groups billions of dollars in earmarks to help get themselves re-elected?
  • want to take your wealth and redistribute it to others?
  • punish those who practice responsible financial behavior and reward those who do not?
  • admit to using the financial hurt of millions as an opportunity to push their political agenda?
  • run up trillions of dollars of debt and then sell that debt to countries such as China

If you are interested in reading more of the concerns of the TEA Party, check out the site where you can get information on TEA Party rallies scheduled throughout the country today and you can also see a disturbing widget at the top of the page showing the current (and ever-increasing) value of our gross national debt.

And while we’re on this topic, here’s a hilarious (and unfortunately quite sad) Tweet from John McCain yesterday:

Met with the Mayors of Goodyear, Mesa, and Scottsdale. Budget challenges are serious – unlike the feds they can’t print their own money.

Weekly Bible Verse – Life is More than our Possessions

April 13, 2009 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 4 Comments 

I’m introducing a new feature here at BFN – a weekly Bible verse geared, at least in some respect, to personal finances or possessions or attitudes about personal finances or possessions, etc.  I have decided to start this as a result of doing the 40 day generosity devotional I spoke earlier .  During this study I have read a number of really great verses that touch on these related topics.  I have found them very useful to ponder and pray about, so I thought that periodically presenting a verse every week might be useful for you as well.

Then He [Jesus] said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."  Luke 12:15 (NASB)

Do you ever get too focused on your retirement account, or your wages, or your savings, or your stuff?  This is a great verse to remind us that it is quite easy to get carried away with money and possessions and get distracted from the really important things in life.  I’m sure we all have different definitions as to what the "really important" things in life are.  I think that Jesus tells us that the most important things in life are to love God and to love others.  (I’m paraphrasing instead of laying out another verse – after all, the title of the feature is the weekly bible verse…singular).

God bless and have a great week…

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