terisaclark

Financial wisdom from a woman of faith

Regrets…

In our recent study of Legacy Journey, I spent time with this homework question: 

“If you were dying, what would you regret?”

At first my page was blank….I don’t have any regrets now.  Why would I have a regret on my deathbed?  I stewed on it.  For an entire week.  Then I started being real with myself.  Started moving past my own personal facade.  Got straight up real and honest. No filter! 

Fact is – I have regrets!  And I have time to change it.  So I wrote them down.  Just 3 of them.  I’ll start there.  I want to leave a legacy and not a regret!!

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Making my list…checking it twice…

It is the most wonderful time of the year.  But also the time of the year when we get caught up in the Christmas cheer of buying things every where!  I’ve been there and done that.  Before I knew it the amount I had spent was 2 times what I had imagined and probably 5 times what I could afford.  It was all on my credit card.   I just knew I would pay it off by January.  But…life happens and that Christmas wasn’t paid for until 3 years later.

If my family, friends, and coworkers had any idea they would have brought their gifts back to me and insisted I return everything to the store. So what made me do it?  Obviously they didn’t want a gift if it left me with a debt.  That’s completely the opposite of what Christmas is. Christmas is about God making the way for our debts to be cancelled.  He desires that our burdens would be lifted.  Not that the burden would grow larger and larger with each gift we give.

So this year, I’m making my list.  Being on the list last year doesn’t mean they are on the list this year.  Not everyone made the list.  I know that hurts and some of you are not willing to go there.  But bear with me.  Is giving about obligation?  Or is it about responding to the gift we have received from our Heavenly Father?  Is a gift necessary?  Is a card with a prayer or encouragement the gift that person most needs this year.  Does your list include people you don’t know?  Opportunities to bless people in need this Christmas.

Next I start checking it twice. What gift would say to them “you matter” or “God has a plan for you”. It’s not about the amount. It’s about the message.  The message of hope.  The gift of love.  Time.  Presence.  Hope.  You!

This year I’m using this awesome new tool.  The Christmas Budget Tool.  Perfect for making your list and checking it twice.

May your Christmas be Merry & Bright!  And may you bring Christ’s love to all as you give this season.

Blessings,

T

Halloween Finance

The discussions about Halloween this year have been good!  You can read some herehere or here.  This post isn’t one about the spiritual, theological or evangelical arguments about Halloween.  It’s one about the financial picture of Halloween.  I mean, what more would you expect from me???  So here it is in an infograph.  The Cost of Halloween, courtesy of creditcards.com:

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Did you get that??? It’s a $6.9 billion dollar day.  Did you get that???  BILLION.  $6.9 Billion.  Wow! I would have never guessed that.

And it got me thinking….what could I do with $6.9 billion.  I have my own ideas.. my Church is my first choice!  We are doing amazing things and that kind of money would make more life change possible!  But I also think of local nonprofits that are making a difference – healing and restoring lives, solving problems in our community.  Research and science. And a fun one – paying off student loans of friends that are sucking wind to keep up with it all….oh I have ideas.  What would you do???

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…..

A quick jaunt through Wal-Mart had my girl shouting “Santa Hats” at every corner…on to the mall, where she “gently” touched the ornaments on EVERY tree we passed….all reminders that Christmas is about 8 weeks away!!

Chances are you find yourself in one of these camps:

Surprised – the statement about 8 weeks just freaked you out.

Carefree – you’re thinking 8 weeks is nothing, tell me when I have 1 week left.

Prepared – you are correcting my calculation to add the days and hours left.

My desire is that no matter which camp you are in, Christmas doesn’t mean debt for you this year.  The sweetness of the Christmas season is found in giving. An exchange of the greatest gift – God’s son for each of us to have eternal life.  May our giving not be exchanged for burden of debt.

Three easy steps to guilt free giving this Christmas:

Start now.

Set the budget.

Pay cash.

 

True Total Compensation

Each year, my employer sends out a “total compensation” statement.  This statement shows the money that my employer pays me and pays others for my benefits.  It’s a powerful statement because it reminds me of those things that you often take for granted.   Health Insurance, 401k, tuition discounts, short term disability, life insurance, long term disability….I bet you are wishing you could be on our staff now!  These things truly are benefits! Not rights – but privileges/blessings!

If your employer doesn’t provide this statement, you should request the information annually.  So why?  And what should you do with it:

1.  Count your blessings.  The money your employer spends on your benefits is money you have saved – while gaining those benefits.  Take short-term disability for example.  The money my employer spends is relatively small – it would probably cost me 3x that amount to purchase this benefit on my own.  And then I personally benefited from STD after having my baby – providing over half of my normal pay for several weeks!  I’m blessed!

2. Know your total compensation.  Knowing what your employer pays in addition to your salary tells the true story.  A story you must know when relocating or changing jobs.  Use this information so that you are comparing apples to apples.  For example, a friend of mine made a move without doing this math……in the end it was a serious demotion financially. The cost of health insurance was much higher in the new city and the new employer did not cover as much of the premiums.   It may feel weird to ask these questions to a new employer – but it’s due diligence.  Know what you are saying yes to.

3. Don’t forget the intangibles.  Beyond the money is the emotional and spiritual compensation of a position.  Looking at my compensation statement reminds me that my employers values are 100% in line with mine!  For example, take the value of family.  My compensation confirm the alignment of our values in many ways – time off and short term disability (see point 1).   And don’t forget that ultimately the nonfinancial compensation (moral, organizational culture, integrity, character, influence) of a position far outweighs the financial matters.  You flat couldn’t pay me ANYTHING to do a job that compromised my convictions.  And likewise, there’s so much more than the $$ that makes me feel compensated in my current position!

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you traveling with….

You know the drill. The attendant stands in the aisle and mindlessly goes through the motions…to buckle the safety belt slide the…in the unlikely event…seat can be used as a flotation…all things I intuitively get.  And then the kicker…for those of you traveling with small children or someone requiring assistance, place your oxygen mask on first and then assist them (or something like that).  

I pause there every time!  That is not so intuitive.  Genuine love and conviction to care for those people makes me want to put their mask on first and then mine!  So why do it the other way?  For the simple reason that if you are not breathing you will not be able to help them.  

And so it is with your finances.  Taking care of you. Your family.  The US in the equation of life should be revived first.  So that you will be around to take care of others.  So if your bills are behind and you know who thinks you should do such and such….stop!  Put your oxygen on first.  If the guilt of not saving for your kids college is weighing you down…hang it up!  Putting the oxygen in your finances now makes you more able to help them later.  

So next time the attendant stands in the aisle – pay attention!  There are some big lessons in that speech.  

 

Gray Divorce

Statistics are changing….financial stress is hitting the gray headed…and divorce too.

25% of U.S. divorces are couples over age 50.  It’s becoming such an epidemic that they’ve given it a name.  Gray divorce.   

Since when did being gray mean you were more at risk for divorce??  What happened to the 7 year itch?  When did the statistics change leaving those married 20+ years more at risk than the newly wed for divorce???

Maybe this has a lot to do with the growing debt that the Average American is carrying.  Or the HUGE student loan debts that people are leaving college with….taking decades to get paid off.

Bottom line – money stress is still the #1 reasons for divorce – with a whopping 57% of the couples citing it as the the primary reason for their divorce.

It’s real. It can happen to you.  It’s never too late.  And it’s never too early.  If you find yourself struggling – you are not alone.  May you sense wisdom and direction right now about where to start.  Join a Financial Peace University class in your area.  Contact a financial coach.  Phone a friend.  But do something now.

Your marriage is a gift from God.  It is worth fighting for!

Study: Christians Who Tithe Have Healthier Finances Than Those Who Don’t

I read this article recently and keep thinking about it.  I see it time and time again.  We have worked with over 650 individuals in the past 6 years and consistently this one pattern is clear.  Those that honor God by tithing (10%) have healthier finances than those that do not.  They get out and stay out of debt. They manage their budgets monthly.  They stay on track with retirement savings.

But why?  I believe all that we have comes from God.  He has given us stewardship over it.  When we give, we are responding with gratitude (thankful hearts) acknowledging that all that we have comes from Him.  That posture is one of worship – to the creator, the owner of it all!  We receive supernatural favor and blessing when we obey His word and instruction on giving of the tithe to the storehouse (local church) according to Malachi 3.

I know that living on 90% that is blessed is always more than living on 100% without the blessing.  I have real life stories that confirm this is true!

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Thinking in terms of minimum monthly payments will keep you poor.  Thinking long term and true cost will lead you to wealth!

Legacy Journey

We started our first class of Legacy Journey today!  This new material from Dave Ramsey is amazing.  The journey to financial freedom is so rewarding and I love celebrating with people each step of the way!!  Today we discussed the snares in our thinking about wealth. It was eye opening.  Societal pressures against wealth are the weights holding our country down.  So why be debt free?  Why build wealth?  It is a holy act.  It is worship to our God.  Imagine what our nation (and world) would look like if American’s embraced building wealth and stopped seeing it as evil.  I propose that there would be little need for government welfare programs.  The people of God and the house of God would be able to do what Scripture taught.  There would be abundant resources to care for the widows, the fatherless and the poor.  We need to reward work!  Encourage wealth!  Celebrate financial success!

 

 

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