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Impact Rooted in Faith

MoneyWise / Rob West and Steve Moore
The Truth Network Radio
June 22, 2023 5:27 pm

Impact Rooted in Faith

MoneyWise / Rob West and Steve Moore

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June 22, 2023 5:27 pm

Man’s purpose is to glorify God and one of the ways we do that is by trying in all we do to make the world a better place—including when we make our investments. On today's Faith & Finance Live, host Rob West will talk with Stella Tai about investing that has a positive impact on the world. Then Rob will answer your calls on various financial topics. 

See for privacy information.


And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.

Galatians 6, 9. I'm Rob West. Man's purpose is to glorify God, and one of the ways we do that is by trying to make the world a better place in all we do, including our investments. I'll talk with Stella Tai today about investing that has a positive impact on the world. Then it's on to your calls at 800-525-7000.

That's 800-525-7000. This is Faith and Finance Live, biblical wisdom for your financial decisions. Well, Stella Tai is our guest today. She's manager of stewardship, investing, impact, and analysis for Praxis Mutual Funds.

Praxis is one of the nation's oldest faith-based mutual funds and a leader in impact investing. And an underwriter of this program, Stella, great to have you back with us. Thank you, Rob.

I'm happy to be here. Stella, before we dig into some of these issues, why don't you share a bit about your personal journey to vocation and impact investing? What inspired you along the way? Yeah, well, thank you.

That's a great question. I would say that I came to the US over 20 years ago to go to college and study economic development. What really pushed me into that was just a sense that I wanted to work in finance, but I knew that money could really make a difference in the world. And so as a Christian, that was my motivation. It excited me.

I wanted to see where I could go with that. And that has led me into a career for almost 20 years now in the community development finance space. And then most recently, of course, here at Praxis, where I'm really impressed by our stewardship investing values.

Maybe two of them are to respect the dignity and the value of all people and then to have a concern for justice in a global society. So those things, if we can flow them through how we handle money and how we invest money, that's been very exciting to me. Well, it is very exciting work, and I can imagine you love what you do.

I'm delighted to unpack it a bit more. So would you describe what you do at Praxis? Specifically, what led a mutual fund company, Stella, to focus energy and resources on delivering not only a return, but impact to its investors?

Yes. Yeah, that's a great question. I think at Praxis here, we've been investing for almost 30 years now. And you're working with lots of faith-based organizations and investors who are interested in how can they make a difference with their investments. And so when you think about investing, you think about impact, the way we're approaching it is we're trying to ask the question constantly, which is, what more can we do? How can we use the funds that we have, the goals that we have with our investors to really make an impact?

And so when you ask, where does the energy go? About a year ago, we launched our ImpactX strategies, which are a set of seven impact strategies across our five funds. And they've guided us in thinking about how can we measure real world change?

Because that's what the investors want to see through our funds. And so if it's OK, I could maybe mention three of those. That'd be great.

Yeah. And so one of them is our corporate engagement strategy, where we have, I would say, about 15 to 20 direct engagements every year with our companies talking about how to make the companies better and have themselves, their communities, and their investors, and the world environment even better. And so that's one. Through our bond fund, we have green bonds, sustainability bonds, social bonds. And so how can we get more impact through investing in our bonds? And then community development, which is the field that I come from for many years. And through that strategy, thinking about community development and serving communities much better. That's powerful. We're going to continue to unpack this just around the corner. How do these impact strategies work?

What impact do they have on performance? And what about the real world implications of all of this? We're talking with Stella Tai today. She's manager of stewardship, investing, impact, and analysis for Praxis Mutual Funds. Much more to come just around the corner. And then your questions at 800-525-7000. Stick around. We'll be right back. It's great to have you with us today on Faith and Finance Live.

I'm Rob West. My guest today, Stella Tai, manager of stewardship, investing, impact, and analysis for Praxis Mutual Funds and underwriter of this program. We're talking about the exciting and growing space of faith-based investing and the real world impact that's taking place through many of these investments today. Stella is unpacking some of the implications of that. Stella, I'd love to pick up where we left off and have you explain how these impact strategies work and whether they have any impact on investment performance.

Yeah, sure. When you ask about impact performance, what I could say is here we have an incredible team of investment professionals who are dedicated to delivering financial performance to our investors. Because that's what they're looking for. That's what they need. Innovative ways where they can both get the financial performance that they want and also have some impact. The exciting thing is the strategies that we are using now have that performance plus impact piece. When you think about the corporate engagement piece, I'd like to share maybe one story with you. One of our proud engagements that we have had has been with Delta Airlines. When shareholders have their values reflected in the market in this corporate engagement strategy, you have something like Delta Airlines that is dealing with tackling the issue of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking that could happen through airlines across the world right here in the US. That engagement has seen Delta make a lot of commitments in training their staff in being able to identify people that might be being trafficked or situations that might need a little bit of engagement and questioning. Also, flyers.

If you're on Delta Airlines, you'll often find flyers or different ways that they're advertising in their planes and in their areas for people to see, this is how you might be able to identify a human trafficking case or something that could be worth paying attention to. I think investors are pretty pleased when their investments can also be used to lift up some of these engagements. Yeah, that makes sense. Now, I know in the bond space as well, you guys are seeing real impact and the performance is there also, isn't it?

Yes, we're seeing that as well. In some of the bonds that we have had, sustainability bonds or impact bonds, we've had some purchases which are making a huge difference in Africa. I come from Africa, so when I see that happening, I get very excited.

There was a bond that we purchased that was a COVID bond and a social bond. It's investing in companies and initiatives that are going to make a huge difference even in Africa or even in South America or South Asia. That's great. Now, when it comes to the real world impact of what you're doing there at Praxis, you're able to really see that in real time. A lot of this is happening in the community development space, which I know is a passion of yours. Share a bit about what you've seen.

Yes. I've been, like I said before, in community development for many years and to see it happening here at Praxis has been great. I think we've said this before here that we have made a commitment to invest about 1% of our funds in community development. Last year and the year before 2021, I was able to do a few site visits that were just wonderful.

One of them was in Kenya, where I was able to visit some investments that go through our partner Calvert Impact that make a huge difference. For example, there was a company that I visited called BioLite, and they use a lot of solar powered solutions. One of their solutions was an energy efficient stove, a cook stove that families can use in rural areas where there isn't a lot of access to electricity.

The emissions from these stoves were very, very low. They also had solar powered solutions for lighting. If you're in a rural area with no electricity, for you to be able to have lighting in your home is just a wonderful thing where your kids can study in the evening and be able to do their homework well. Those same solutions had power stations for phones. Everybody has a phone now, a cell phone or something like that.

To be able to power your phone in an easy way is just a wonderful solution. Seeing this happening at a high scale, reaching hundreds of thousands of families is, I think, the real definition of impact right there. No question about it. Estella, it's obvious that your passion for impact investing is rooted in your own faith. You see a strong connection between what investors can do and what believers have been doing in their communities for generations.

Share just a bit more about that. Yeah, so true. Scripture has always encouraged generosity towards those who are poor. This has happened for centuries.

We've seen it. In my own faith, I think I would like to share maybe one scripture that has just been such a wonderful encouragement to me. This is out of 2 Corinthians 9, where Paul references the generous and the cheerful sower. As this sower is going about their work, it results in abundance. Abundance in what they're getting, joy, blessing, not just for the sower, but also that the gift is scattered freely to the poor. If we can be able to find a way through creative ways of investing and investment management, then we can create investors, those that are seeking to honor God and how they're doing their investing with charitable services or organizations that are sharing their values and making a difference in the world. That makes me passionate as a Christian.

I can imagine. Well, I'm sure that folks listening today are curious how to learn more about everything you're describing here. So where can they go to get more information? Yeah, we have a couple of resources that are easily available. We have been producing a quarterly report that kind of gives a quarterly statement of what is the impact. A few stories, a few statistics, a few graphs, and just sharing the exciting impact that's coming out of the work through our quarterlies. Just a couple of weeks ago, we released our 2022 Real Impact Report, and this is found at our website,

You can go there and download a free copy and connect with us, and we're happy to talk to you. That's great. Well, Stella, we appreciate you stopping by today to give us a really good understanding of what impact investing can really do. Thanks for being with us. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

That's Stella Tai, Impact and Analysis Manager at Praxis Mutual Funds. The website, again, is All right, your calls are next, 800-525-7000. We'll be right back. Great to have you with us today on Faith and Finance Live. I'm Rob West. It's time to take your calls and questions, 800-525-7000.

Again, that's 800-525-7000. We've got some lines open today, and we'd love to hear from you. Hey, before we head to the phones, one of the reasons that we're so excited about what God is doing here at Faith and Finance is because of the stories, the testimonies, the life chains that's occurring as you apply God's wisdom to your financial decision-making. That's why we do what we do, and we know that your financial journey is one of the key ways God shapes your spiritual journey. And so, when you understand a biblical worldview of money management, that God owns it all, and we're his money managers, and we should hold God's money loosely, give it generously, pay down debt, live appropriately, well, we experience the blessing and benefit that comes with that. Listen to one of those stories that we heard just recently.

I just wanted to give a brief testimony of what the Lord has done in my life through your ministry. I got brain surgery a few years ago, and I was practically bankrupt. I couldn't work anymore.

So I was left with a big problem with the debt that I have to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And by following the principle that I learned through your program, I was able to pay all of my debt. The Lord miraculously, totally changed my situation.

Miraculously, totally changed his situation. That's what we love to hear. We celebrate that and countless more stories of where God is at work in your lives.

And we're so thankful that you share those with us. It's a great time to remind you that here as we head toward the end of our fiscal year, just eight days from now, June the 30th, it would be an incredible blessing to have you partner with us as we close our gap and finish our year strong. And so if you'd like to make a gift to support this work so that many more people, you and others can experience that miraculous transformation that that listener was just describing when we live according to a biblical worldview, we'd certainly be grateful. You can give any amount when you head to our website,, that's and just click the give button and know that that will go a long way to helping us shore up and close out this year and start a new year of ministry serving you as faithful stewards. Again,, just click give. All right, let's head to the phones.

We'll go to New York City region. Wanda, thank you for calling. Go ahead. Hi, Rob. How are you doing? I'm doing great. Thanks for calling today. Yes.

So my question to you, Rob, is I'm trying to figure out what to do now that I can't really find my son on my taxes. So I don't know what to put down. That was one of the questions. I'm doing two and one now.

So two federal and one state. So while you think about that, I have my next question. So the next question is, I've never really done any repairs on my home. I've had the home for one on 20 years this year. I only owe a little over 40.

It might be lower than that, a little 39. But anyway, I've never taken out a loan for the home. I'm 56 years old and I'll be working for the next 10, 15 years or more. I'm already in my retirement job.

So should I take out? What kind of loans should I take out Rob? OK, got it. Well, let's dive into these first with regard to your son. You're going to want to first update your tax withholding form that's known as a W-4. It's changed from how it was approached in previous years. It's now more of a formula and they'll step you through a series of questions that you will answer that will result in giving the information for how much will be withheld from your paycheck. You'll provide, of course, your name, address, filing status, Social Security number. But you'll also provide any dependents, any other adjustments. You'll indicate whether you have multiple jobs or a working spouse and then you'll sign and date it and turn it in. And that will provide everything that's needed to determine how much is ultimately withheld from each check. And then, you know, when you fill out the 1040, whether you do that yourself or someone does that for you, you would provide dependent information there. But the key is to get the withholding right so that you're paying in the appropriate amount throughout the year out of each paycheck. So you don't get a big refund, but you also don't owe anything. So that would be the key. With regard to a major repair on the house, how much are you needing to spend to do that? I'm not sure, but like I said, I've never done anything. I know I need floors. So I was thinking about at least $50,000.

Okay. Yeah, the challenge is, you know, interest rates are very high right now. And so it's going to be very costly. I mean, typically what I would recommend is that you get a home equity loan. So you lock in the interest rate. The problem is you're going to be locking it in at, you know, a pretty high rate right now. And if it's a second mortgage is going to be even higher than the prevailing 30 year mortgage rates, which are right now about six and three quarters.

So you could be, you know, you'll be 7% plus could even be north of 8%, which is going to make it pretty costly. Do you have the ability to wait, Wanda? I do have the ability to wait because I was thinking that I can wait until I get to that retirement age. And then that way I can use some of my 403b and not have to pay taxes. Well, you know, not be penalized. Yeah.

Yeah. So that would be an option. You'll want to look at that in light of your overall income needs just to make sure that, you know, you're not depleting necessary assets that are going to be critical to provide whatever income you need to make up beyond Social Security to cover your bills. I think the key would be I'd probably take your time, delay these repairs or renovations as much as you can.

Try to fund of it. Try to fund as much of it as possible out of current cash flow so you don't have to borrow. And if you could delay until next year, we're probably looking at interest rates in the fives next year for 30 year mortgages. Second mortgages like this one would be a little higher. The other option is you could take what we typically don't recommend, and that's a home equity line of credit. The one reason why you might want to consider it now is it would give you a line that you could pull from as needed, but it's a variable rate. So as the rates come down over the next couple of years, you would benefit from that. But I think I'd probably hold off as long as you can and let rates come down or consider taking it out of the 403b.

But I would look at your 403b in light of how much are you going to need to truly offset your expenses in retirement so you know how long you need to work and how much you need to save. I hope that helps you, Wanda. We appreciate you being on the program today. Thanks for calling.

Karen, Steve, Cindy, coming your way just around the corner. Plus your questions with lines open 800-525-7000. Give us a call. This is Faith and Finance Live, and we'll be right back.

Delighted to have you with us today on Faith and Finance Live. I'm Rob West. We're taking your calls and questions. 800-525-7000. You can call right now. 800-525-7000. Let's head back to the phones to Antioch, Illinois.

Hi, Karen. Go right ahead. Hi, thanks for taking my call. Yes, ma'am. Okay, so I am going to receive a death benefit.

A little bit over twelve thousand dollars. Okay. And I know the correct thing to do. I should. Dave Ramsey, I should have like three months emergency money put up. I should have I should have all these things in place. What I am worried about is whether I should pay off a car or pay off my my home.

I live in a condo and I could pay it off and pay my car off. And if I do everything that I'm supposed to. I am living biblically.

Correct. At the same time, I have never been out of the country and I've been wanting to go to Europe. And I'm and I'm like, I'm kind of torn between doing everything that I should do biblically and the right way. And then yet at the same time, you know, trying to do a little heart's desire type of thing.

And I was wondering if you could help me with that because I'm struggling badly. Yeah, I'd be happy to weigh in on that. And you may be surprised to hear me say I don't think there's anything more biblical about paying down debt or giving than there is taking a vacation. Because part of what God entrusts to us, he wants us to enjoy. Now, we should do that in light of our values and our priorities and in the context of a well thought out plan that makes sense. So we're not encouraging incurring dead and unnecessarily and putting ourselves into bondage or robbing God of an opportunity or of providing. But at the same time, enjoying God's resources, being able to travel, build memories and relationships with people we love. That's perfectly appropriate, again, as long as it's done in light of a plan. And that plan should start with your values and priorities. What is God doing in your life and how can money as a tool help you best accomplish that? So I think we could work through that.

I mean, ultimately, this is between you and the Lord. And if you decide to take a trip, I think that's great. We would want to try to, though, shore up some things that might make some clear sense as we just look at your financial life. Starting with the fact that, yeah, I think it would be really good for you to use this to develop an emergency fund of at least three months expenses.

I think getting out of high interest debt is a no brainer. That's credit cards. If you have any ongoing credit card debt, I would do that. Now, at the same time you do that, you absolutely want to make sure you have a spending plan that balances that you're willing to stick to. Because the last thing I'd want is for you to go and wipe out the credit card debt and feel really good about it. But because you're living beyond your means each month, it will come right back.

So let's just make sure that we're not treating the symptom. But the problem if there is one in terms of overspending. Beyond that, I think, you know, you need to look at does it make sense to go and pay off the car?

If so, great. That way you could take that monthly payment and recoup that into additional savings or put it away earmarked for your next car so you can buy that one with cash. The house is great, but that one, you know, as you said, could eat up all of this money and we certainly don't want to do that because you have other priorities.

So I think you just need to take them in priority order, but I wouldn't feel bad at all about reserving a portion of this for you to enjoy and get out and do some traveling. And I think you could feel good that that's certainly within God's plan for how we use his money as long as it's been thought about, prayed about, and it makes sense in light of an overall financial plan. But give me your thoughts on all that. You know, I've just been wanting to do it and I've struggled for many years and this money is going to be kind of like a blessing and it's almost like I feel like God's saying, okay, here, I'm going to give you this money. Now, use it wisely. This is going to be the last chance to get a bunch of money like this. And yes, and it's like, well, I could do some repairs to the house instead of pay the house off, but I do like that idea of maybe like paying the car off and then using that and just keep making the payments like I'm making with car payments, but put it into a savings account. I didn't really think of that.

Yeah, that could be a great option. Let's just break it down real quick. How much are you getting? Somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000. Okay, so let's say it's $10,000. What would you need if you wanted to put away three months expenses? How much would that be?

Well, let's see. Probably about $1,000 a month is what I spend on. So let's say we put $3,000 in an emergency fund and then how much, what do you, what debt do you have other than the car or the house, the condo?

Really not much. I have just the one credit card because I got rid of all the other credit cards. But that is, it's like only $1,000. So I knew that I need to pay that down to what about $600 or $400? I'd pay that one off. There's no reason to pay in, you know, 16 or 20% interest on that.

So I'd knock that one out. How much is left on the car? $4,000. Okay, and how much will your trip cost?

Probably about the same. Okay. All right. Well, I mean, I think what you could do is I mean, if you were to put $3,000 aside, knock out the credit card and then spend another $3,000 or $4,000 on the trip, you know, that would be $8,000. You could go ahead and pay down the car another $2,000.

So down now the car has been cut in half and then you could focus on just, you know, knocking that off as you can. I think that puts you in a really strong position to allow you to enjoy some of this. You're coming home to a fully funded emergency fund and credit card balances at zero and you're on your way to paying off the car and then you can attack the condo next.

I think that sounds like a great plan, Karen. Do you have money so that I don't use it? Should I put that like maybe in a six month CD so it's not readily available?

The emergency fund? No, I wouldn't put in, I would separate it from your regular checking account so it doesn't get used, but I wouldn't put it in a CD because by definition you want this readily available for the unexpected and we never know when that's going to come. So what I would do is open an online savings account with an online bank. So you could go to and do a search to see who has the most attractive rates right now. But you'd open an online savings account, link it to your checking and then deposit it there so it's not too easy to get to, but you can get to it when you need to.

And those are paying about 4% plus right now. So that would go a long way to getting you what you need. Hopefully that's helpful to you. Hey, you enjoy this and I'm sorry to hear that it's a death benefit. Obviously you've lost somebody that's important to you, but I know it'll be a blessing to them and to the Lord for you to use this wisely and honor him with that.

Clearly your desire is to do that or you wouldn't have called today. So listen, all the best to you, Karen, as you proceed from here and if we can help further, let us know. Hey, we're going to take a quick break, then back. Steve, Cindy, Jesse coming your way just around the corner. You all stay right there.

This is faith and finance live where we apply the wisdom from the Bible to your financial decisions and choices, helping you give generously, save appropriately and pursue contentment and joy and peace of mind in your financial lives. We're going to be back with much more just around the corner. By the way, we've got a few lines open and time for maybe one or two more questions.

The number 800-525-7000. Stay with us. Great to have you with us today on faith and finance live back to the phones we go here in our final segment to Geneva, Illinois. Hi, Steve. Go ahead, sir. Thank you, Rob. Appreciate you taking my call.

Sure. My question is, I've been working on trying to get my credit up in the excellent level in the last four or five months, and I'm a member of Credit Karma, so I get to look at my TransUnion and Equifax whenever I want to. And last month I was three points from being in the excellent range on both of them, just three points away from 750. And they suggested that I take my Capital One credit utilization on the 10%, and that would knock me up into the excellent level.

So I did. I took my credit utilization down to 5% on the Capital One, and I know that Capital One reports on the 20th each month to the credit bureaus, so I got on there to 21st to see if I made it to the excellent level. TransUnion bumped me up into the excellent level, and it said see what changed.

I clicked on that. It said Capital One balance decreased. But on the Equifax one, it dropped me 26 points, and I clicked on see what changed, and it said capital balance decreased.

And everything else was the same from the first. I'm like, have you ever heard that where you drop 26 points and you did the right thing? Well, yes, only because there's so many factors here that play into this credit score, and nobody knows truly what the algorithm looks like. It's kind of like the Coca-Cola secret.

I mean, we know kind of the big pieces of it for sure, but exactly how it works, there's just a number of factors there. So it could have been that based on, and some of these may not apply, so I'm just throwing out some ideas, but based on the fact that you're using other cards, the reported balance before you pay it off, if you're using it for budgeted expenses, then paying down to zero, it may have pushed another card up in terms of credit utilization. Often there's a hard inquiry where you allow somebody to pull your credit. There could be errors on your credit report, which is why we need to regularly be pulling your three bureaus at from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. If you closed an account, those would be typically the reasons where if nothing has changed, you have a drop in a score, it would be one of those. Closing an account, utilization, hard inquiry, or an error.

Apart from that, it's probably just somewhat of an anomaly. I just kind of keep monitoring it. I suspect it'll bounce right back. The key is you're doing the right thing. You're getting your utilization down, you're paying on time, you're not out there seeking new credit, authorizing people to pull your credit, and opening new loans. Those are all the right things, and you'll be rewarded over time.

Why your score bounces around 25 points here or there, there's often no rhyme or reason. So I would just continue to watch it, and I suspect next time you pull it, it'll come right back. Okay, thanks. Yeah, I tried to call Equifax, but it's impossible to get a library.

Oh yeah, good luck with that. So I just stay at it, but I would, if you haven't recently, pull a copy of each of those three credit reports just to make sure there's not any erroneous or incorrect information. Thanks for calling, Steve. We appreciate it.

Winter Haven, Florida. Hi, Cindy. Go ahead. Hi, thank you, sir, for taking the call.

I have a question. I'm 65, retired from the government, and I have a TSP. It's only got $30,000 left in it, and it's all in the G Fund, which, as you know, is getting nothing. Would it be wise to move that money out of the TSP or somewhere in it or move it to a Roth IRA somewhere else, like to E-Trade? And the second part of that question is, will it move me to a higher tax bracket if I never touch the money, you know, if it just goes from TSP to Roth electronically? Well, you wouldn't roll it to a Roth. You'd roll it to a traditional IRA, and there's no tax implications to that. That's not a taxable event until you pull the money out.

At that point, whatever you pulled out would be added to your taxable income, and a portion of that could bump up into a higher tax bracket without question. I think the key for you is what's the right investment mix? So you said you're 60 years old, is that right? 65. 65.

Okay. So typically, we'd have somewhere between 40, you know, 35 and 45% in stocks at that point, and then, you know, you'd have the rest in bonds. The good news is, you know, bonds are going to come into favor here, whereas they've had a tough go the last, you know, year or so just because of the rapid rise in interest rates. But that 35 to 45% in stocks, which, you know, you could mix if you stayed in the TSP between the C and the S and the I fund, the common stock, the small cap and the international, that would make up probably 35 to 45%. And then you'd have the rest in the F with the smallest portion in the G, if any, and the fixed income would give you a bond exposure. Or you could roll it out to an IRA and then build the portfolio yourself, or get some help at You probably doesn't sound like you have quite enough to hire an investment advisor. The nice thing about the TSP is there's, you know, you've got some great investment options, but there's not an unlimited number of choices there. There's really just five investments, which keeps it fairly simple.

Now, if you're wanting to take, you know, far less risk, even than what I'm describing with maybe 35% in stocks and 65% in bonds, then, you know, you could go almost all bonds, but I kind of like that growth factor in there if you don't need this money, so that it can keep growing and be there for you down the road. Okay, well, obviously, in the G fund, it is not growing. No, there's not a whole lot going on in the G fund. Yes. Okay. All right.

All right. And one question, silver coins. Should I just hang on to them, or is this a good time to take them to the jewelry shop or wherever and trade them in?

They're doing nothing here in the house. Yeah, I mean, that's up to you. Precious metals are great to buy and hold, and the downside is they don't have any income generation, obviously, as they're sitting in your drawer. Gold's done better than silver, but, you know, if you want to hang on to them just as something to have down the road, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I like that it's diversified for you away from the stock and bond market and should do well over time, and it's a store of value and a safe haven if things were to get, you know, more difficult in terms of economically.

So I don't think there's any urgency to sell them unless you wanted to and, you know, put that money to work where it could be more income generating. Okay. Appreciate your advice. All right. Thank you for calling today. We appreciate it.

To Pennsylvania. Hi, Seth. Go ahead, sir. Hey, Rob. How are you? I'm doing great. Thanks for calling.

Thank you. So my question in a nutshell is, is I have about $7,000 in a brokerage account, and I also have credit card debt of about $15,000 and a car loan for just under five. So what I'm wondering is, would it make sense to use that money to pay off the car loan and wait on the credit card or put that towards a credit card debt?

And I'll say this, too. The car loan is about $350 a month, and part of the reason for the credit card debt is with costs rising, we've been using them more. So freeing up that $350 a month, I think, would be good, but I wanted to get your advice on that. Yeah. So you said a brokerage account. It's just a taxable account.

It's not a retirement account. Is that right? Right. All right. And is it currently invested in stocks?

About half of it is. Okay. So it's down, or has it recovered some? It's down.

I mean, it recovered some, yeah, but it's down overall. Okay. And if you were to get rid of this $350 a month, would that right-size the budget such that you wouldn't have to use the credit cards anymore? Yes.

Okay. But things would still obviously be tight because $350 is not much, so it sounds like you guys are kind of right up to the edge, huh? There's five kids in the family, so yeah, I mean, with the grocery costs alone there. I get it. I get it.

Costs through the roof. Do you have any other savings, or is this it? I do have about $3,000 in other savings, and that's, I mean, that's kind of earmarked for taxes and other things, so it's not really accessible. All right. And do you have some retirement accounts? I do, yep. Okay.

All right. Yeah, the challenge is, you know, this is all the liquid savings you have that's not earmarked for something else, because we wouldn't want to use savings that you have for taxes, and although it would help you balance the budget, and that's key, it doesn't sound like you'd have anything left, so you're solving for a deficit. It's not like you're able to make ends meet, and now you'd have an extra $350 to replenish the emergency fund, because if that emergency fund essentially goes from seven to two and then the unexpected comes, we're right back into the credit cards, which is what I want to avoid. So I think you need to do a couple of things immediately. One is we need to right-size that budget as best you can. Let's get in there, and I realize you've got a lot of mouths to feed. That's great.

They're a blessing from the Lord. Expenses are up, but let's do everything we can to cut expenses. You know, if it's not food or the house or the utilities or the car, it's up on the chopping block, right?

And even food, let's look at ways to dial that back as best you can so we can right-size this budget. And if you were able to do that and demonstrate to yourself that you could avoid those credit cards, then I'd say, all right, let's consider wiping out the car loan and then take that $350 a month or something close to it, whatever you have left, and then really start rebuilding that emergency fund. And then let's get that $15,000 into a debt management program through, get those interest rates down. You'd have one level monthly payment that fits into your budget, and you'd be able to pay that off 80% faster. I realize you've got one at 0%, I think, here based on my notes for another year.

You could hold that one out, and that would keep it open. But I think the key is to get a longer-term strategy that you know that is going to get you on a track to get these paid off once and for all without the balance transfer game. So I think that's where I'd go from here. I'd just be careful about chewing up all that liquid savings because that's all you got. And so really this is going to come down first and foremost to what can you all do to get as close to right-sizing that budget as possible.

Then we'd consider paying off the car loan, but we've got to have some margin because really you need to get up to three months expenses, and then you need to start thinking about saving for the next car so you can buy it with cash. So listen, all the best to you. I'd contact, see what they can do to help, and then maybe go from there. Thanks for your call, Seth. Faith in Finance Live is a partnership between Moody Radio and FaithFi. Let me say thank you to Tahira, Amy, and Jim. Couldn't do it without them. Thank you for being here as well. We'll see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-22 18:24:38 / 2023-06-22 18:41:11 / 17

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