04Mar 2013

Incorporating Biblical principles into your families financial lifestyle is essential when raising children in a Christian home. This three-part series expounds on the benefits of having of a strong Christian foundation in your finances and how you can pass that heritage onto your children.

We live in a class conscious society that places great value on material wealth and the ‘abundance of things which we possess.’ It seems the lines of division between the “haves” and “have nots” are being drawn increasingly clearer by the day and many Christians are having to make tough decisions on where they want to be.

In all honesty, most people would certainly agree that “having not” has little appeal. However, Jesus had no trouble telling the rich yourng ruler who had come to Him seeking the secret of eternal life to “go and sell all that you have and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21). This sure does not seem to place material objects in high regard.

From this and other Scripture that can be related to finance, it’s plain to see that God’s financial system differs greatly from that of society at large. In God’s financial system, the concept of “having” or “not having” is not as important as recognizing what the true “treasure” is to begin with and valuing it above all. In the case of the rich young ruler, his “treasure” was his earthly possessions which he valued most of all. Ironically, his possessions did not bring him complete happiness, satisfaction or peace of mind. Otherwise, why would he go to Jesus for the answers he sought?

The Bible teaches that where your “treasure” is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21). Therefore, as a Christian, it is important to determine early on in life just what your “treasure” is going to be, as your “treasure” will have a big impact on the ethics of your finances at home. If wealth and material gain is your “treasure”, your financial decisions, career goals, business dealings, etc. will center around that purpose and, good or bad, your actions will be geared towards reaching that goal.

If you opt for “treasure in heaven,” it doesn’t necessarily mean you will lack financially. It does mean, however, that you’ll place greater priority on living God’s financial principles of generosity, selflessness and caring for the needs of others in your life.

Your perspective of what is truly valuable in life will determine how your finances play out in your home. Your perspective will have an impact on your family, friends, business associates and fellow employees. Your financial values (or lack thereof) could very well be the basis of the Christian financial education you bequeath unto your children.

We propose that you define your families treasure and lead your finances accordingly. Finances are not often discussed openly amongst families. Now, we are not suggesting that you sit down with your children and offer a breakdown of your income and expenses. We do suggest though, that you demonstrate biblical principals openly. Don’t just say that giving is good, but show your children how to give selflessly.

Make a routine of incorporating your entire family in your giving. Maybe you have decided that a percentage of your income or a particular dollar amount is dedicated to charitable contributions. A great way to involve your children is to allow them to choose the charity. An alternative is to match any amount set aside for donations that your child dedicates in their children’s budget (post coming soon in this series!) in order to show that you value their decision to give freely what God has given to them.

There is nothing more important than adopting Biblical principles into your financial lifestyle and passing those principles onto your children. God’s financial system carries with it a lifetime guarantee. Storing treasures in heaven begins with defining your families treasure, which should reflect your belief in God’s Word and His blessing for your financial supply.

In the next part of this series, we will discuss how to teach Biblical financial princples to our children and encourage them to adopt these principles into their lives.

21Jan 2013

“There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” — I Corinthians 12:6

Tithing–giving money to your church to help with outreach programs–is at the foundation of the Christian faith. Too often, however, as our budgets get stretched, we struggle to find money for the church. One creative way to find money for your tithe is to start a “side gig,” that is, something that makes money other than your regular job. Below are just a few ideas to start you thinking:

Ways to Find Extra Money with a Side Gig

1. Sell your stuff. Virtually every family has too much “stuff.” Books, CDs, games and other media can be sold easily via the Internet. Check with bookscouter.com to see who is offering the best price. Of course, traditional methods like garage sales and consignment stores work well for big items.

2. Get creative. Does your family enjoy crafting? Online outlets like etsy.com and eBay make it easy and affordable to open an online craft shop.

3. Put the kids to work. Most neighborhoods have single or no-child households that need leaves raked, gutters cleaned and lawns mowed. Suggest your teens work for neighborhoods a couple of days a month to benefit the church. It’s a good lesson and they’ll be helping their neighbors, too.

4. Perform a service. Are you good with pets and have time at home during the day? Consider starting a dog walking service. Do your neighbors travel often for business? Offer to take in their mail and watch their house for a small fee. There are dozens of easy services that you can do from home in your spare time.

5. Start a blog. What was once a way to share thoughts and pictures with friends and family is now a great way to make money. Pick a topic you’re passionate about and a free platform like blogger.com. You can monetize even the simplest blog easily, using companies like Amazon.com, Commission Junction and/or Google Ad Sense. Plus, blogging is fun.

Debt consolidation is another way to free up some of your paycheck. If you’re paying multiple credit card companies or installment loans every month, consolidating your debt could help you get back on track and free up some extra cash each month, to tithe or use for other budget items. To find out more about debt consolidation, talk to one of our Christian debt counselors at 877-232-5109.

11Jan 2013

The term “budget” is used so frequently that many people admittedly believe that they are using one even when they have never actually put it into practice. The implementation of a budget is truly the best tool available to ensure financial security whether it is for an individual, family, or business. This does not just mean jotting down your bills and tossing the paper in a drawer, but conducting a thorough review of your income and expenses and taking actions based on your findings.

While it is necessary to take this crucial step in order to begin working toward your financial goals, it is even more important to have the right mindset before you even begin to create that budget.

Why Take the Time?

“Every prudent man acts out of knowledge” Proverbs 13:16

Brick WallFirst, it is helpful to understand why it is important to have a budget. A budget can be considered the foundation of your financial home. This lays the brickwork for everything that you will be building on top of it. This will help you determine what you currently do with your money and, more importantly, what you should be doing with your money.

A good foundation should be complete- no bricks left over and no empty spaces. If you find that you have money left over, you will want to create a home for it in your budget.

If you have reviewed your income and cannot cover your expenses or have out of control credit cards, speak with one of our Christian Debt Advisors for a free professional consultation.

Plan and Persevere

“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” 2 Thessalonians 3:4-6

spending budget savings
Once you understand the purpose of a budget, you should prepare for the difficult part- sticking to your new budget. This is often the most difficult part. When a good budget has been created, it should dictate how you are able to spend your money. It will determine how much can be spent on groceries, entertainment, church community donations and everything else.

When you have reached your weekly limit on eating out but your friends are inviting you to a meal, you will find out just how dedicated you are to your budget. If your budget has been reached it will require determination and perseverance to stick to the plan that you have put into place. Allowing small cracks to form in that foundation now can result in an entire collapse in the future.

Remain Aware

“Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds” Proverbs 27:23

Magnifying Glass
The final component to a good budget is a regular review. Life is ever changing, and our finances change right along the way. If anything has changed in your life, update your budget immediately. Otherwise, take some time on a bi-weekly or monthly basis to review your budget. A regular review will allow you to catch any trouble areas in advance so that you can keep from straying too far off path.

Creating and implementing an honest budget will provide you with awareness of your financial situation that will pave the way for a stable and predictable future. It will allow you to see trouble coming months in advance so that you can prepare. You will be able to spend your money with confidence, as you have prepared and anticipated every dollar that you spend.

If you would like assistance in creating or reviewing your budget or are in need of further financial guidance, let us know! Our Christian Debt Advisors will be happy to help you evaluate your situation and reach your financial goals.

31Dec 2012

Through our experience in offering Christian Debt Relief programs, we have come to learn that whether you are in great financial shape or are up to your ears in debt, some things are universal. Most individuals that we speak with have heard the horror stories about harassing bill collectors. Bill collectors have been known to make incredibly outrageous statements in hopes of collecting on a past due account.

In hopes of putting an end to these unscrupulous collection methods, the Federal Trade Commission implemented the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, better known as the FDCPA. Knowing your rights as a consumer can help you to handle phone calls from bill collectors and give you the knowledge that can keep you from being the target of unethical and even illegal collection methods.

Here are a few of the basic protections offered by the FDCPA.

When and Where A Debt Collector May Call-

A debt collector should not make any phone calls prior to 8 AM or after 9 PM unless given prior permission by the debtor.

Also, a debt collector should no longer attempt to reach a debtor at their place of employment if they have been notified, whether it be through verbal or written notification, that their employer does not allow such communication.

Types of accounts that are covered by the FDCPA-

The FDCPA covers consumer debts such as credit cards, auto loans, medical bills and mortgages. The FDCPA does not cover business debts.

How to stop phone calls from bill collectors-

If a debtor provides a written request to cease communications the collection agency should cease all collection efforts aside from the following:
o Notification that collection efforts are being terminated
o Notification that the agency intends to take legal action

Statements that a debt collector cannot make-

A debt collector may not use or threaten to use violence or other criminal means to harm the debtor, their reputation or their property. Also, a debt collector may not use obscene or profane language.

One of the most common violations is the frequency of the phone calls. A debt collector may not call repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy or harass the debtor.

While the FDCPA has helped to promote ethical collection tactics, there are absolutely still rouge bill collectors using less than professional methods to collect past due debts. Knowing your rights as a debtor will allow you to stay armed and protected in the event that you are the subject of harassing collection efforts.

If you feel that your rights have been violated, please speak with one of our Christian Debt Relief specialists to discuss, as you may qualify to be compensated up to $1,000 under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

18Dec 2012

When it comes to eliminating debt and ensuring a debt-free future you have four main options available … but how do you know which one is right for you? Here’s a quick summary to help you make the best decision.

Debt Relief Option #1 – Debt Consolidation

While a common consideration for those with high credit card debt, debt consolidation offers some fairly significant disadvantages.

  1. Debt consolidation does not reduce the overall amount of your debt. With a debt consolidation loan you’ll still pay back 100% of your debt, plus interest. A debt consolidation loan basically transfers your credit card debt from one place to another.
  2. Debt consolidation loans are usually “secured” loans that cannot be lowered or negotiated. This could put your home, car or other personal assets at risk in the event of default.
  3. Funds from the debt consolidation loan are used to pay off your credit card debt. For some people, having credit cards with zero or low balances is too much of a temptation. Before they know it, they’re back in the same position again with high credit card debt.

Do your research before you choose Debt Consolidation. It’s a decision you’ll be living with for many years to come.

Debt Relief Option #2 – Credit Counseling

Credit counseling organizations usually try to reduce the interest rates and fees associated with your debt. Like debt consolidation, though, credit counseling doesn’t actually reduce the amount you owe. You’re still responsible for 100% of your total balance.

Many people are also surprised to learn that credit counseling can actually cause your monthly payment to go up. If you’re looking for some immediate financial relief and want to have more money in your pocket for rent, food, tithing and more, credit counseling may not be the best option for you.

Debt Relief Option #3 – Bankruptcy

Yes, bankruptcy will often eliminate all of your debts… but it also produces some significant negative consequences that you should be aware of.

  • The bankruptcy will show on your credit report for at least seven years
  • It will be much harder to obtain loans or other forms of credit in the future
  • The higher interest rates you pay as a result of filing bankruptcy may offset any gains you received from eliminating your debt
  • You’ll likely have unexpected attorney expenses due to laws that were recently enacted
  • A credit counseling course will be required within six months of filing bankruptcy…even if you have already taken one
  • Bankruptcy will stay on your court records for 20 years and could easily be uncovered when you apply for a job, a loan or rent an apartment

In addition, bankruptcy has a social stigma that many people prefer to avoid. Think long and hard before choosing bankruptcy as a debt relief solution. In most cases, it should be your last choice.

Debt Relief Option #4 – Debt Settlement

The three previous debt relief solutions all have some fairly significant negative consequences to their use – from not reducing the overall amount of your debt to taking five years or more to get you out of debt to potentially increasing your monthly payments.

Debt settlement, though, offers some of the best features of the other methods and eliminates many of the negatives. That’s why we believe that debt settlement is a great choice for those looking to reduce or eliminate their debt.

With debt settlement you’ll:

  • Immediately lower your monthly payment
  • Reduce your credit card debt
  • Become debt free in as little as 24 months
  • Pay no fees until your debt is reduced

Have more questions or want to learn more about the FaithWorks Financial debt settlement program? Visit our FAQ page or click here to receive a free consultation and quote from one of our friendly Christian Debt Advisors.

18Dec 2012

As Christians, the Bible is our “life guide” – offering advice and instruction on everything from how we treat others to how we should try to live our lives.

But did you know that the Bible contains over 2,000 scriptures that expressly cover how we should deal with and manage money?

Today I’d like to take a look at a specific verse – Romans 13:8 which says; “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

I find the first part of that scripture – “Owe nothing to anyone.” – particularly important.

Why? Because when we accumulate excessive debt, our focus tends to turn away from God and toward money and ourselves.

We start to think less about God and less about how we can become the men and women he desires us to be and more about how we can acquire more money.

If not careful, we can become obsessed with money to the point where it interferes with our personal relationships, our work performance and even our level of happiness.

Our lives may become filled with stress and a general sense of failure. We may lose sight of God and begin to feel all alone in the world.

That’s why it’s important to strive to “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

So if you have accumulated excessive debt, perhaps it’s time to get out from under its heavy weight and begin to regain your life and your focus on God.

Take the first step. Speak with a Christian Debt Advisor and learn about the debt relief options that are available to you.

Remember…you can be debt free. You can have a happier and more relaxed life.

18Dec 2012

Finally…the hard work is done.

You’ve reviewed your debt relief options (including debt consolidation, credit counseling and bankruptcy) and have determined that debt settlement is the right choice for you.

Perhaps it was because you could get started for free. Or maybe you liked how quickly debt settlement could help you reduce your debt. In any event, it’s great to have the decision made.

Now what?

Well, you want to be sure to choose a debt settlement company that is right for your personal situation. Here are 7 quick tips for choosing a reputable debt settlement company.

  1. Make sure you select a company that follows FTC regulations. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous companies out there. The FTC recently stepped in to help protect consumers. You can also protect yourself by choosing an FTC-compliant company.
  2. Don’t pay any upfront fees. In fact, there should be no fees until your debt is reduced. FaithWorks Financial believes that you should ‘Get results first…pay fees later’. You’ll want to choose a company that has a similar philosophy.
  3. Avoid debt settlement companies that don’t offer a free consultation. The consultation will give you a window into how the company works and help you gauge how responsive their debt advisors are. You deserve to work with experts who will quickly respond to your questions and who put your wants and needs at the top of their priority list.
  4. During the free consultation make sure you ask the debt advisor if he or she is the person you will be working with throughout the debt settlement process. Many companies have sales teams that close the sale, leaving you to work with someone else for the duration of the program. At FaithWorks Financial we believe in developing a long-term partnership with our members. That is why we try to limit your communications to no more than two of our Advisors. You’re treated as an individual, not an account number. Your Christian Debt Advisor will take the time to learn about your unique circumstances and be with you through the entire process. This personalized approach can help you reduce your credit card debt even more and save you as much money as possible.
  5. Get as much upfront information as possible on how long the debt settlement process will take and how much it will cost. FTC guidelines require that these details be communicated to you…so don’t let a company beat around the bush!
  6. Make sure your funds are held at a third-party financial institution in an FDIC-insured escrow account. Avoid companies that ask you to send funds directly to them. It’s your money. You should have complete access and be able to make withdrawals at any time.
  7. Consider a Christian Company. Faith-based companies often take a more ethical approach to business and may be more likely to look out for your best interests.

Have questions or want to know more? Click here to receive a free quote and consultation.

18Dec 2012

Have bad credit and want to improve it? There are two things you should know:

  1. You are not alone. According to recent statistics, there are over 30 million Americans who have difficulty obtaining loans and credit cards because of challenges with their debt.
  2. There are some simple ways to improve your credit score. Below I’m going to provide six proven tips to help you get started.

Remember, the better your credit, the lower your interest rate on car loans and credit cards. Good credit scores will also make home ownership much easier.

So what can you do to improve your credit score? Here are 5 tips:

  1. Get rid of credit card debtwhile paying off loans, such as your mortgage, car loan or student loan, can improve your scores it will not improve your scores as much as getting rid of revolving accounts such as credit cards.
  2. Cut back on credit card use – Making big charges can damage your scores whether you pay off your balances each month or not. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your monthly charges to 30% or less of your credit card’s limit.
  3. Make sure the credit limits being reported on your credit report are accurateif your lender is showing a credit limit that is lower than your actual amount your credit score can be penalized. Most credit card issuers will quickly update this information if you make them aware of the error.
  4. Continue to use older credit cardsquite simply, the older your credit history, the better. If you continue to periodically use the credit cards that you’ve had the longest your credit score will benefit (provided you pay the balance off in full each month, of course).
  5. Closely study your credit report for errors – when it comes to raising your credit scores, some errors are more important to get fixed than others. Here’s what you should look out for and get corrected if you discover mistakes have been made:
  • Late payments
  • Credit limits reported as lower than they actually are (See #3 above)
  • Accounts listed as anything other than “current” or “paid as agreed” (such as “paid derogatory” and “paid charge-off”) if you paid in-full and on-time.
  • Accounts included in a bankruptcy that are still listed as unpaid.
  • Negative items older than seven years (10 in the case of bankruptcy) that should have automatically been removed from your credit report.

Follow the five tips above and your credit score should steadily improve.

Bonus Tip – Don’t ask a creditor to lower your credit limits!

While your heart might be in the right place – i.e. reducing your limit will keep you from charging so much, the truth is lowering your credit limit will reduce the all-important gap between your balances and your available credit, which in turn will hurt your credit score.

It’s better to leave your limits where they are and try to limit your spending another way.

Interested in reducing or eliminating your credit card debt quickly and easily? Need a proven debt relief solution? Click here to learn more about how we can provide you with a customized debt relief solution that will help you achieve true financial freedom.