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Weekly Bible Verse – Avoiding Debt and Giving Generously

August 31, 2009 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 4 Comments 

The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.  Psalm 37:21 (NIV)

Here is a nice, simple, straightforward verse for this week.  That being said, it is still something quite timely to remember in this day and age of credit defaults, short sales, foreclosures, layoffs, companies going out of business, and the like.

Obviously, not paying back money that you borrowed is a problem.  Taking out a loan is making an agreement to give back the money that you received plus some interest in most circumstances (if you did not realize that, you really should have read all the fine print on that document you signed!).  So, most of us would agree that the proper thing to do is to repay that borrowed money.  Simple…easy…

If you look at the entire verse, however, you see an interesting juxtaposition of two not directly related truths.  Notice that the wicked borrow money and do not repay it.  So you might expect the remainder of the verse to mention how the righteous do repay borrowed money, but in fact it says nothing about the righteous borrowing money at all.  Instead it states that the righteous give generously.  You can take this verse and go a lot of different places with it possibly leading to some interesting arguments discussions (but I’ll leave that up to your imagination).

I think a straightforward (possibly non-controversial) interpretation is that the righteous person simply does not get caught up in debt.  And by not being in debt and by not having to hinder his/her cash flow by paying back money and wasted interest, he/she is able to generously give money instead.  So in summary (purely my own interpretation, of course), don’t borrow money (but if you do, pay it back), spend wisely and buy only what you can afford when you can afford it and save up your money (in other words, be a good steward of it).  Then you can give generously to God honoring organizations and those in need.

God bless and have a great week…

This Week in the Blogosphere – Haven’t Done This in a While Edition

August 27, 2009 · Filed Under Blog Links · 1 Comment 

Well, it has been quite some time since I’ve posted my weekly list of interesting and/or intriguing articles that I’ve found around the Land O’ Blogs.  In fact, I guess I haven’t done it since….last September!  Wow, it really has been a while (can that be correct?)  Anyway, without further ado (don’t worry I’m not going to list all the good posts since the last one…just those for this week)…

Ok, so check out those articles and see what you think – hopefully you’ll find them interesting as well.

God bless..

Guest Post: How to Search for Money-Saving Opportunities on Google and Twitter

August 25, 2009 · Filed Under Frugality · 3 Comments 
Today’s guest post is provided by Ann Smarty. Ann Smarty (http://annsmarty.com/) is a search marketer, Internet entrepreneur and social media enthusiast.  Please have a read, leave a comment, and check out her site…

Saving money is not only about counting each penny: it’s about being informed. To be able to find useful timely information, you should be aware of smart Google and Twitter search tips:

1. Search Google

Google has recently tweaked its search interface in a way that it became more shopping-friendly: now you can search for reviews, forums as well as see most recent updates. The options are available in the left sidebar after you click “Show options“. Let’s see how these innovations can help you in practice:

Reviews: that’s easy: just search for anything you plan to buy, then just choose “reviews” in the sidebar and the search will be refined:

Google search: reviews

Forums: this handy option allows to see relevant discussions related to your shopping plans. Use it if you need to know what others say about the thing you are going to buy.

Google: forum search

Time Frame: this option allows to sort search results by time to find updates published past 24 hours, a week or a year. The best thing about the option is that it can be used in conjunction with the above ones – thus you can find most recent reviews or forum discussions:

Google search: time frame

Search any site: with site: Google command you no more need to look for the site search option. With it, you can search your favorite site and enjoy the above mentioned tmeframe sorting.

Example: say, I want to find all recent deals and coupons for laptops on my favorite budgeting community Buxr.com. All I need is to search Google for [site:buxr.com laptops] plus using “Past 24 hours” option in the left sidebar:

Google site search

2. Twitter Search

Twitter search is another great tool budget shoppers can take advantage of. It may turn especially useful if you are aware of some less known but useful tips:

Negative reviews: Twitter search allows you to find what people are saying about the product right now and moreover, what dissatisified people are saying. Just use 🙁 sign when searching and you will be shown Tweets with some emotional coloring:

Example: [Godaddy 🙁]

Twitter search: negative reviews

Questions: Knowing what questions people ask when discussing something may clear up some things you would be unaware of otherwise.

Example: [ipod touch ?]

Twitter search: questions

Weekly Bible Verse – Building on a Strong Foundation

August 24, 2009 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 4 Comments 

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.   1 Corinthians 10-13 (NIV)

This week’s verse builds upon the previous two weeks (here and here) where we discussed living a productive life and what that meant.  Here it is further clarified by showing that as we live our daily lives, we are actually building up a structure.

The structure we are building is being laid on top of a a very solid foundation – Jesus Christ.  We don’t have to worry about the foundation – it is solid. What we do need to concern ourselves with is what and how we build on top of it.  As the verse informs, God will use fire to “test the quality of each man’s work.”  Thus we should build a strong and useful structure using suitable materials.

So what does this really mean?

Remember (or look back over) the previous weekly verses where we discussed focusing on eternity.  Now this verse underscores the need as we go through our days, and we interact with others, as we spend/save/give our money, we should do so with an eternal purpose in mind.  Use your time, your money, you skills (maybe even your bow-hunting skills and computer hacking skills) to build up that robust, functional structure that will come out of the fire not destroyed, but purified and refined.

Monthly Net Worth Update – August 2009 – New Net Worth High

August 21, 2009 · Filed Under Net Worth · Add a Comment 
Cash + Money by Terence Chang

Another increase in our net worth this month pushes us to a new all-time high for our net worth (Ok, so I’m not exactly making Bill Gates worried but I am happy that it continues to increase).

Our assets increased 4.4%

Last month I mentioned that our assets grew mainly due to an increase in our liquid account balances after a few months of stock market returns driving our assets upward.  It looks like that might have been a bit of an aberration as this month our asset growth was again driven heavily by market gains.  In fact, our liquid assets decreased more than 8% but that was more than offset by strong increases in investments (15%), stock options (51%!), 529 plans (16%), and our retirements funds (10%).  Even our house value, according to Zillow.com of course, increased again.

I like the increase we’re seeing though I’m not counting on the upward trend continuing.  The market has been doing well recently but I’m still concerned about volatility going forward.  That being said, the plan stays the same.  I am also not too concerned about the decrease in liquid assets.  We have started to pay for our upcoming vacation and also paid some big yearly bills last month (life insurance premiums, for instance) so that accounted for a good portion of the drop.  We had saved up for those things though so they were in the plan.  And I’m continuing to save up for next year’s big bills too so it is hopefully not a cause of stress when they are due.

Our liabilities decreased 0.5%

There is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary to report for our liabilities as they again dropped the typical monthly rate of 0.5%. I still do not have any concrete plans to do anything interesting to try to rid myself of the mortgage early.  I was playing around with Dave Ramsey’s mortgage calculator though and found out that starting next month, even putting in as little as $100 extra per month will save me $48,000 in interest over the rest of the 27 years of the mortgage.  Wow!  I have to get more serious about this mortgage prepayment stuff.  In fact, the mortgage company just sent me an $85 check for an escrow adjustment…maybe I should start with that (and throw in $15 to make it an even $100) and do something….still pondering…

Our net worth increased more than 11%

Overall, our net worth shot up more than 11% pushing it to the highest it has ever been.  The previous high point was June 2008 before all the uncertainty in the US economy and stock markets starting take its toll.  I think it’s too early to say that we have weathered the financial storm as we are heavily exposed to the stock market right now.  That being said, I am happy with our current plan and we will continue to follow it for the foreseeable future.

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