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Monthly Net Worth Update – June 2010

June 23, 2010 · Filed Under Net Worth · 2 Comments 
Cash + Money by Terence Chang

Another volatile month sees us end up …. exactly where we started?

Our assets decreased 0.07%

As I look over our asset accounts, it appears that every balance has dropped slightly except for my stock options.  My stock options value increased almost 14% and that just about completely balanced out all the other drops.  Actually, that’s not exactly true – somehow our retirement accounts managed to increase slightly this month as well.

Our cash accounts have been dropping pretty quickly the last few months as we continue to pay off the large expenses related to our baby’s birth and adjust to living on one salary.  Overall, it did decrease again this month but by a much smaller amount that the previous few months.  I’m hoping that’s a good sign that we’re starting to get our spending in line with out income.

Our liabilities decreased 0.12%

Our mortgage dropped the standard 0.12% again this month.  I mentioned previously that our mortgage payment is by far our largest payment each month (well, it still is).  I think we’ll need to do something about this to get our expenses to meet up with our income, but I’m not exactly sure what to do about it at this point as our home value is much less than our mortgage balance.

Our net worth held steady

Well, this is the first month that has happened – our overall net worth basically did not budge from last month’s value.  I guess that’s a good thing.  Of course, I’d like to see it increasing but after a significant drop last month, I’m just happy it did not head even further south this month.

Weekly Bible Verse

May 4, 2009 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · Comment 

Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 (NLT)

This week’s verse comes from the book of Ecclesiastes; it was written thousands of years ago.  Yet, there are three timeless messages crammed into only 4 sentences.  In fact, I’m sure you’ve heard these concepts repeated throughout your life (I know I have).  I didn’t realize until recently, however, that these are Biblical concepts.

For those who love money, they will never have enough of it.  I’m sure you’ve heard the famous quote attributed to John D. Rockefeller.  At a time when he was the one of the richest men in the world, he was asked "How much money is enough?"  His reply?  "Just a little bit more."  I think that pretty much sums it up.

Though some would probably argue with the idea that money does not bring true happiness, it is true.  Just having money does not guarantee your happiness (do you know of any fabulously wealthy yet miserable people?).  And not having loads of money does not guarantee your unhappiness (do you know any financially poor people who are content and happy?).

I know you’ve heard the final concept as well – you’ve probably heard it something like "the level of your expenses will rise to meet your income."  I’ll attest to the truth of this statement as well.  I remember when I finished grad school and created a budget for my first "real" job.  I was going to be making more than 3x what I was paid as a GRA in school.  I was shocked when I completed that first budget.  I went back and checked my math multiple times – I must have made a mistake!  How could I be making so much more money and still end up with no more at the end of the month!

It really surprised me to find these in the Bible – especially the first and third.  Of course, the more I read through and learn about the Bible, the less surprised I am at what amazing truths I find in there!

God bless and have a great week…

Biblical Financial Lesson from the Book of Acts

August 28, 2008 · Filed Under Biblical Lessons · 7 Comments 

I’ve heard over the years of the importance of spending "quiet time" with God through prayer or study or whatever. So, near the end of last year I started reading my bible for at least 15 minutes each weekday .  I don’t do anything fancy; I usually read a chapter a day. I try to read through the chapter a time or two to try to understand it. Then I’ll go through it one more time while reading the commentary.

Bibles

Why do you care about this? (You don’t) I thought it would be interesting to try to pull out some relevant information or advice or whatever I can find from each book as I read it. Don’t worry, I realize this is a personal finance blog so I’ll pull items that relate to finances. I just finished the book of Acts, so let’s start with that.

A lot happens in Acts

Acts details the events of the very early church starting when Jesus ascended to heaven through the next few decades – so there is a lot of meat in there. I want to point out a story from chapter 19 of Acts.

People like money….a lot

This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course. If you start reading in verse 23 you will read the story of a silversmith from Ephesus name Demetrius. It seems that Demetrius has a pretty good business going selling silver shrines of Artemis who is local god quite popular Ephesus. Of course we have a problem since Paul is preaching the gospel and converting many Ephesians to Christianity. This does not sit well with Demetrius:

He [Demetrius] called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty." Acts 19:23-27

Now, I’m reading between the lines, of course, but I do not think Demetrius was overly concerned with Paul besmirching the good name of Artemis. He stuck that part on the end of his argument after starting by mentioning the "good income from this business."

So what do Demetrius and his fellow silversmiths do?

They don’t start talking about job retraining, that’s for sure. They literally whip up a riot:

When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. Acts 19:28-29

The funny part is that most people don’t even know why they are rioting:

The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. Acts 19:32

Well, eventually the city clerk calmed the crowd and then they dispersed. But if things would have continued out of control who knows what might have happened to Paul’s companions and himself.

So the love of money really is a problem

When you think about money, there are probably two oft-repeated verses that come to mind:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. 1 Timothy 6:10a

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24

This tale from the book of Acts is a cautionary one. It shows us how we can become so preoccupied with money that we resort to horrible acts if that money or our ability to get more of it is jeopardized. We should reflect on this story and ponder what applications it has in our lives.

From 1 Timothy, we see that money itself is not evil but rather the love of it is what causes us to act inappropriately. Everyone must earn money to take care of their needs and those of their family members. Having money is not a bad thing. Obviously, resorting to violence, as in this story, to protect your source of income is a problem. Consider, however, other ways that this love of money may cause us to act.

Well, I don’t have to worry about that – I’ve never whipped up a riot

Do you gossip or slander the person who is up for the promotion you want? Are you envious of those around you with bigger houses or nicer cars? Are you "creative" when you complete your tax returns? People don’t do these and similar actions because they love other people; they do them because they love money.

Well, this turned into a lot more "moralizing" that I had originally intended. I’ll try harder next time to just present an interesting story with some financial implications. Isn’t it true, though, that our finances and our behavior tend to be more closely tied together than we would probably want to be the case?

PS: One last thing – I usually do a book review on Thursdays – did anyone miss the review this week? (I’m still trying to find what works best here!)

photo credit: Paul Keller

45 Ways to Earn Some Extra Money

August 19, 2008 · Filed Under Making Money · 103 Comments 

In the personal finance basics series that I’m currently doing, the first step was to earn some money (pretty obvious, eh?). While thinking about going into more detail on this step, I realized that there are numerous directions I can go with this post. I’ve decided to start with a list of ways to earn some "extra" money – outside of your current career/job. I’m going to periodically add to this list and, over time, create a large list of such ideas.

The point of the list is to be comprehensive but not detailed. I will go into more detail on some of the ideas in the future as needed. You can search other blogs or the web to find out more information on the ones that strike your fancy. My hope is that reading through the list will pique your interest in one or more of these ideas or it will get your creative juices flowing and trigger some great ideas of your own (if you have any, leave a comment for others to see too and I’ll put it in a future list). Click here to continue reading…

Personal Finance Basics Part 1 – The Basics of the Basics

August 11, 2008 · Filed Under PF Basics · 2 Comments 
Personal Finance Basics

Today I am starting a series on personal financial planning basics. In this series, I’m going to go over some of the main topics of personal finance – this will be a high level introduction to the topics that most people should consider when they first get started thinking about personal finances.

Today’s post will go over the very basic necessities – these are the things that you must think about for any basic financial plan. This is the bare minimum you should consider if you want to properly take care of yourself and your family. In part 2 of this series, I will go over some “optimizations” to the plan (hey, I’m an engineer, this is just how I talk)(no, not the kind that drives trains). These first two posts are to serve as the introduction to the topic. In future posts, I will get into more detail on each topic.

So, this is my list of the basic items needed for a financial plan: Click here to continue reading…

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