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Lessons from Groundhog Day

MoneyWise / Rob West and Steve Moore
The Truth Network Radio
February 2, 2021 7:03 am

Lessons from Groundhog Day

MoneyWise / Rob West and Steve Moore

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February 2, 2021 7:03 am

Groundhog Day has become synonymous with repeating the same mistakes over and over until you get things right.  Similarly, many of us repeatedly make the same financial mistakes, instead of taking time to understand and learn from them. On the next MoneyWise Live, hosts Rob West and Steve Moore share a few of those mistakes so you can avoid them. Then they’ll answer your calls and questions on various financial topics. It's lessons from Groundhog Day, on the next MoneyWise Live at 4pm Eastern/3pm Central on Moody Radio.

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Not licensed in Alaska, Hawaii, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah. Happy Groundhog Day, a day that's become synonymous with repeating the same mistakes over and over until you get it right. Hey, any chance you're doing things like that, maybe with your money? Well, whether it's bad habits or just not knowing any better, a lot of folks repeat their financial mistakes instead of learning from them. So today, Kingdom Advisors President Rob West shares a few so you can avoid them. Mistakes, that is. Then it's your calls at 800-525-7000.

800-525-7000. I'm Steve Moore. Lessons from Groundhog Day.

That's next right here on MoneyWise Live. So Rob, Groundhog Day, it's a bit of a whimsical sort of holiday when we're supposed to believe that a furry little rodent can predict the future. Kind of silly, kind of fun, huh?

I would agree with the silly part, but I think it's popular because it's a way to break up the monotony of winter, perhaps. But as for predicting the future, we know that only God knows what lies ahead. Still, the Bible gives us a good idea of what to expect when we act foolishly. Proverbs 22, 3, it reads, The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. And a good one for today's topic is Proverbs 24, 16, it reads, For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. You know, Steve, God knows that we'll make mistakes, sometimes even repeatedly.

But when we repent and turn from those mistakes, learn from them, I believe he strengthens us. And that's certainly true with our money. You see, if we seek his wisdom on finances, he's faithful to provide it. And the first place we should look, of course, is in his Word. You know, we've said more than once that there's 2,300 verses in God's Word on how to manage money and possessions wisely. That's right.

And it's a much more reliable source of information than a burrowing quadruped somewhere in Pennsylvania. So what are some of these money mistakes that people do repeat over and over and we're here to warn about? Yeah. Well, the first one is also one of the most avoidable. It's living without a budget. You know, we typically don't think of that as something people do over and over, but every month that goes by without a spending plan is just repeating the mistake. You know, you simply can't manage your finances wisely without drawing up a spending plan and sticking to it. You know, we can't save up an emergency fund for unplanned expenses. You'll most likely run up credit card debt as well. You'll probably end up making late payments and incurring extra charges. You can't invest properly for the future either.

And you certainly can't be as generous toward others as you might like to. So again, the longer you delay living on a spending plan, you're just repeating the mistake and drawing out the inevitable. Yeah. And that's really that's a really big mistake that lots of folks make time and time again. Okay, what's next?

Well, we already mentioned it. And again, we might not think of it as a repeat mistake, but it is and that's not having an emergency fund set aside, ideally three to six months living expenses. And if you don't have money in liquid savings, you know, it's a repeat mistake because every time an unplanned expense pops up and they always do. It's another financial calamity. But a lot of people do it over and over and have to relive the embarrassment of having to borrow money. Proverbs 21 20 speaks to this precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours all he has.

That's right. And to quote the eminent American League philosopher Yogi Berra, it's deja vu all over again. Okay, what's another repeat mistake? Well, it's going month after month without investing for the day when your age or health prevent you from earning a living. And this is without a doubt the most damaging to your financial health. That's because two things are required to build up a nest egg for the future. Money, of course, but also time. The longer you delay, the less time you have to build on your earnings. Every month you repeat this mistake without investing something for the future means lost time that you can never get back. And Steve, we've said it before, but your wealth is most often accumulated through your income. It's a powerful force. That's right. And ironically, the best time to start saving for retirement is when you're young. But when you're young, retirement is the last thing that's on your mind.

So it can be a rotating thing. But good parents and grandparents will do the best they can to encourage their young people to do these kinds of things. OK, we've hit some of the big ones. Aren't there some little mistakes that people make with their money as well? Absolutely. Probably too many to count.

I'll give you one that's one of my pet peeves and that is ATM fees. Call it more collateral damage from the pandemic. But folks made more out of network cash withdrawals last year, totaling 12 billion dollars. Wow. OK, that's a lot. We'll come back and chat some more about this and take your financial calls at 800-525-7000.

Call right now. Hey, we're celebrating Groundhog Day here on Money Wise. And you might be saying, well, what does Groundhog Day have to do at all with my money, with my finances?

Well, it could be it's stuff that you kind of do over and over again, which that film Groundhog Day was all about, at least in part. And Rob, any last thoughts or words on this, things we need to heed and watch out for? Well, you know, Steve, we mentioned there's little things that we can do, perhaps inadvertently over and over again. I think the big idea is we need to learn from our mistakes.

We need to constantly be on the lookout for not repeating the same problem areas over and over. If there's one budget category that tends to be a budget buster, move that particular category at the very least into an envelope system. So you're tracking the use of that if it's eating out or entertainment or whatever it is. You know, begin to dial that back if it's the fact that you're unorganized and that really pays its price in tax time or you're missing payments and that's being reported to your credit report. Let's get a system to become organized. You know, I think as we begin to shift our thinking around this idea that we're God's money managers, it perhaps should cause it to be a little more weighty, this responsibility that we have to manage God's resources wisely, which means we need to be on top of it. And perhaps this is a good idea and a good opportunity, especially right at the start of a new year to say, this is the year that I get organized, that I begin to save diligently, that I pay off my debt, I begin to get on that spending plan and set something aside for the future. And by the way, always be evaluating your giving to say, how can I increase that as well? So I would just encourage you to be thoughtful about how you're managing God's money. Right, disorganization, boy, that's such a huge one.

It leads to bounced checks, late bill payments, as you already mentioned, so many other things in the financial area. So pray and ask God to help you make some changes this year that you won't have to keep repeating over and over. Now, one thing I can repeat, I've been given official permission today to repeat the phone number. Steve, give the number. We have open lines.

Okay, okay, I hear you. 800-5, that's the people in the background, only I hear them in my headphones. 800-525-7000, toll free, 800-525-7000. If you have any sort of financial question today for Rob West, let's tackle them. Let's begin by going to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

May, thank you for calling in today, thank you for your patience, and how can we help you? I just have a question referring to tithing. Yeah. I tithe what I earn from my jobs, like the physical work that I do. I tithe that to the church I attend. Recently, some property I own has a stone quarry on it, and that has opened back up.

So, in the future, near future, my income will probably be doubled. So, that tithes money I would like to spend or give to the local church in the community where the stone quarry is, and another church in the community where I live, a very small church. Is it okay to split my tithe between different churches, or should it all be going to the church that I attend?

Yeah, yeah. Well, May, I appreciate the question, and obviously you're very thoughtful and diligent about the giving that you're doing, applying the principle of the tithe, giving off of your increase, whatever income sources you have, you're giving it systematically to the local church. I love that. I think that's a great beginning point for our giving as we think about really honoring the Lord out of obedience, but as an act of worship as well, and I think starting with the storehouse, the local church is the right way to go. I certainly wouldn't want to be legalistic about it. For me, the tithe goes to where I call my home church, where I'm planted, where I'm serving and being fed and involved actively in ministry. I give all of my tithe there. You know, if you decided for whatever reason to make that not necessarily be the case for your tithe and perhaps split it up, I think that's ultimately between you and the Lord. I would just encourage you to spend some diligent time praying about it, just asking the Lord for wisdom.

But I don't think there's a right or wrong move here. If you feel led to do that with this particular source of income, again, I think God doesn't need our money. He sees our hearts clearly either church, and in this case, both churches are, I'm sure, grateful for the giving that you're doing, and it's probably going to a lot of great things in the name of Christ.

So I think you're right on track here. I would just say perhaps ask the Lord to give you some wisdom. May, we're glad you called, and we wish you the very best. You sound like a very generous and giving person.

The latest church giving statistics that Rob and I have seen indicate that most Christians do not tithe or even come close to it. So the fact that you're worried about where to exactly send your tithe, that's a pretty big blessing to actually enjoy, and we're glad you called today. 800-525-7000. Canton, Ohio. Brynn, what's your question for Rob West?

Hi. Yeah, speaking about Groundhog Day, I got my master's like 15 years ago, and my husband and I got married seven years ago about, and we've been doing pretty well at getting rid of debt and different things, but this sucker, I'm telling you, $30,000, and at 10 years I thought, oh, I'm a teacher, I'm going to be able to use that forgiveness program. Nope, didn't qualify for that because I didn't know, again, I wasn't careful with the procedural things. I just kind of borrowed the money without thinking, and so now we're still at around $30,000 like 15 years later, and of course there's deferments in there and small payments when you start out and all of that that's part of student loans, but I'm just wondering with the interest rates being so low, should we just take this and take it to like a bank or one of the associations that deals with getting out of student loan debt and get a lower interest rate? It's like at 5% right now, but again, I've had this thing for 15 years.

Yeah, yeah. Well, I think the key here, Brynn, is I don't like the idea of taking this and attaching it to your home, let's say. If you were talking about using a home equity line of credit or something else like a home equity loan to pay this off, even though you're right, the rates are incredibly low, we're taking essentially what is unsecured debt and securing it to your house, which means if you have an inability to pay, now your home is at risk, and I also don't like the idea that we perhaps would then extend the term way out. We may get comfortable with this idea that, well, we can just pay that off over 10 or 20 years when I'd like for you to really prioritize that and have some incentive to try to get that paid off just as quick as you can, as opposed to extending it out a bit longer because you've got lower rates and you feel like, well, there's a lower interest rate, so I guess we just kind of let it ride. So I would really stay right where you're at. I think the other thing that you have to recognize is with federal student loans, not only do we have potentially a period of time with lower rates right now, but you have an opportunity if there was a disruption in income to opt for an income-based repayment plan that would allow you to take some pressure off if you had a really difficult season.

Obviously, that's not going to be the case with other types of loans. So I think right now, unfortunately, as much as frustration as it has caused in that it's not coming down, it's really about just adding more principal in addition to that monthly payment every month, and that's always going to start with your spending plan, just going back to the plan to say, what can I do to dial back spending? What do I need to cancel? What do I need to eliminate? Do I need to sell some assets? Is there a period of time where we need to really try to free up more money on a monthly basis so that after we've paid off any credit card debt and after we've funded our emergency fund, we're really attacking the principal balance on this thing so we can get it moving in the right direction.

And my fear is if we take another approach, like a HELOC, that it's just going to, even though we might have a lower rate, the term is going to be extended and it's not going to give you the incentive to do the hard work of really dialing back your lifestyle. So unfortunately, it's not going to be easy, but I'm confident on the other side of it you'll be glad you're really focused on it. Brinn, great call, great question, and we'll pray that you get this thing paid off sooner rather than later and hang in there as a teacher. We appreciate your service as well. Quickly to Minneapolis. Hey, Ray, what's your situation?

How can we help? Well, it's pretty close to the last caller. I took out an equity line of credit to pay for my son's college, and they offered me, and now recently they offered me to no cost refinancing my house because interest rates are really low. And they wanted, they said that they would take that equity line that I took out already and put that into my mortgage so that I have a lower rate because right now it's over 4% and it's a variable and right now I'm only paying interest. So my question is, do I take that new mortgage and put that equity into that with a lower rate and then pay everything in one payment? Yeah, and so basically you'd be combining the HELOC and the first mortgage.

Give me the balances on both of them. The equity line that I've already taken is about $35,000, and if we add it to my present mortgage, it'll bring it back up to about $170,000, which I paid for the house, but my house has over doubled since I bought it. Okay. All right, so $170,000 would be the new mortgage, so right now you're at about $135,000, is that right?

Correct. All right, and what do you think the house is worth right now? They claim it's worth over $300,000. Okay, and what is your interest rate on that $135,000? At the present time, it's not quite 4, it's 3, like 8 or something like that. And then it would bring it down to, they'll bring it down to, I think, at 3 or just above 3.

Yeah, okay. What is your credit score? About 760 or 780. All right, and finally, how much do you have left on that mortgage? How many more years?

They said 15, and they're going to give me a lower rate at 20-year mortgage. Okay, great. You know, let's do this.

I'm going to ask you to hold the line. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, I'll give you my thoughts on where we go from here. Great. Stay with us.

Hang on. We appreciate your phone call. Joe, we'll be right to you. Stay with us. Elizabeth in Chicago, Joe in Downers Grove, stay with us. We're coming to you momentarily, but right now we're chatting with Ray in Minneapolis. He wants to refinance his home, or he's thinking of refinancing his home and combining a HELOC with that.

Rob, where were we? Yeah, Ray, I think the key here is the diligence with which you can approach this new loan. You know, if you're really living on a budget and you've demonstrated that you can stick to your plan, and you take at a minimum the amount that you have going toward the home equity loan right now and the current mortgage payment, even though both will decline once you do this, to attack this new mortgage and you don't increase the term on that first mortgage, meaning if you have 15 years left, you are really sticking with a 15-year mortgage.

Then I'm okay with it. But if there's any hint that, you know what, things are tight, you know, some months we're kind of going underwater, you know, we may, when the pressure is taken off, reallocate some of this money to additional spending, which is really ultimately going to result in you spending a lot more in interest even with the lower rate because of the term and the fact that you'd send the minimum, then I'm not excited about it. But if you genuinely believe that you can stay focused on this and commit at least what you have going right now to the two mortgages and stay committed to that 15-year mortgage, then, you know, you should be in good shape. The other thing I would say, Ray, is I'd do a bit more shopping on this particular loan program.

You know, most folks, even though this is the biggest purchase they will make, only take the first offer that's made. You know, right now, we just – I was talking to Dale Vermillion who consults with us on mortgages here at MoneyWise earlier today, and he was telling me that, you know, he's seeing rates under 2% for a 15-year mortgage. Now, that's probably going to require the very best credit scores and so forth, but there's a big difference between under 2% and right at 3%, especially if you've got, you know, 60% loan to value. You've got a good bit of equity in this home. So, I'd be shopping around, maybe check with a local mortgage broker, check with your bank, and I'd also go to bankrate.com to see what some of the online lenders are offering.

You don't want to buy it down, so check those expenses, but you should look for a very competitive rate, something around, you know, 2%, 2.25% on a 15-year loan. Ray, we trust that will help you. Thank you very much.

Downers Grove, Illinois, just outside Chicago, I believe. Joe, what's on your mind today? How can we help you? Yes, thank you so much for taking my call. I received a letter from the Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance in regards to unemployment assistance that I never put a claim in for, and it just really unnerved me because they have my correct address. They've got the last four numbers of my Social Security, but I have never put in any unemployment claim. And not only that, I live in Illinois.

Right. Well, Joe, that's a giveaway for sure. You know, this is a very common scam right now with so many people unemployed due to the pandemic. Here's what happens. The thieves apply for unemployment benefits in someone else's name, and basically what the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, has said is you need to report that suspected unemployment fraud to your employer, to the state unemployment benefits agency, and the FTC at this website, identitytheft.gov, and it's a good idea to keep a record of the communication. I might consider, just based on what you're telling me, locking your credit report with what's called a credit freeze.

I would also place a fraud alert on it, which makes both of those make it much more difficult for an identity thief to open a new account in your name, and then check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com regularly to look for any unrecognized activity. Don't be fearful about it. There are steps you can take.

I just outlined them, but that's probably what's going on here. Joe, thanks so much for calling us today. We hope it all works out for you. You're listening to MoneyWise Live, finding God's plan for your financial life. We'll be right back.

7,000, Tampa, Florida. Hello, James. What's your situation, sir? Hi, James. Hello? Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I'm here. You're on the air.

Go right ahead. What happened with me was, you know, I've been trying to keep a good credit score. I don't use no more than, you know, I step under 30 percent of all what I got, you know, for the total amount. Anyway, I got a credit card the other day and it dropped my score down 70 points. And I don't understand why they would drop it down that far.

Yeah, well, it's probably temporary, James. You know, there's a number of factors that go into your credit score. One of those is whenever you open a new line of credit, it puts an inquiry on your account. That inquiry is going to pull your score down temporarily for a period of time, typically not 70 points. But you'll see a decline.

It could be upwards of 30 points. And then just the fact that you're out there seeking new credit, you know, is factored into that algorithm as well. Bottom line is, as long as your overall balances, the debt that you have versus the limit or the available credit that you have is less than 30 percent. And you're an on-time payer every month, this temporary blip will be just that.

It'll be temporary. The score will bounce right back up as you begin to charge hopefully budgeted items and then pay that off in full every month on time. As you do that, it's going to establish positive credit history.

So there's so many factors that go into this. Any number of things can cause you to have a temporary decline, especially when you're opening a new account like this. And if you don't have a lot of other credit activity going on. But as long as you manage your money wisely, and again, you're an on-time payer keeping those balances very low, preferably at zero each month, then you're going to be just fine. This number will come right back up. So there's a ratio, Rob, as far as how much credit card availability you have versus, what, how much money you have, how much debt you have.

What's that? Yeah. So that's the debt to credit or limit ratio, which basically says, here's the total balances we have versus the available credit. Now, with this being a new account, that's probably not impacting him because he's now got a higher available credit and he probably doesn't have a balance on this quite yet. This would fall under the new credit percentage. So when you think about the pie of what makes up your credit score, 10% of that credit score pie would be new credit. And adding a new account does have a temporary negative impact. But that's lessened by the fact that credit utilization should actually be going in the right direction.

And over time, that on-time payment history will be additional positives toward the overall score. So this thing should come back up in the very near future. So, Jim, keep an eye on it, but we think you're still in pretty good shape. And we're glad you called today. Thanks very much. Chicago, Elizabeth, welcome to MoneyWise Live. How can we help you?

Hi. My husband recently passed away. He had a small IRA – well, it's not small. It was a $20,000 IRA that I went to the bank last week to cash in or change and had them put it in my checking account. I could move it out of the bank someplace else because I understand I have a 60-day rollover. But I was wondering if I could use that money and not roll it over because I'm over 65, though I'm still working and not retired. But I have two children, one who is living at home and doesn't really need money, but the other one that is living paycheck to paycheck and could benefit from some cash.

Yes. So, Elizabeth, you're just wanting to take a withdrawal on this? I did – well, they're supposed to deposit it in my checking account.

I'm still waiting for them to do that. And then I'm going to figure out what has to be done. If I have to put it back into like an IRA or a pension or something, I will do that. But if I don't have to, I wanted to take a portion of it. And then how do I best – and then should I give it to both children even though one needs it and one doesn't?

Or, you know, I wonder how to help this child that definitely needs help. Sure. So just to make sure I'm clear, this was his IRA and you were the beneficiary. Is that correct? Yes. Correct. Okay.

All right. So you received the IRA at the death of the owner regardless of what's in the will or living trust because as a beneficiary, it passes directly outside of probate. And once the IRA custodian is made aware that the death occurred, then you receive that inherited IRA. You can either leave it at the same institution and it gets moved over to an inherited IRA or another one. Now, if you're the beneficiary and you inherited the account, which you did, you can cash out the account at any time, even before age 59 and a half, without having to pay the early withdrawal penalty. And then you would pay taxes on the money that you pulled out of the IRA when you file your tax return.

It would be added to your taxable income. So bottom line is as the beneficiary of an inherited IRA, you absolutely can pull that money out of the IRA and then do with it what you choose, including giving it to your children. Now, at that point, I think to your second question of how to handle that, I think that's something you really just need to think and pray through. You know, it's entirely up to you as the steward what you feel like is best. One of the things Ron Blue says in his book Splitting Errors is he says, if we love our children equally, we will treat them uniquely. And what he means by that principle is just simply, especially with adult children, we don't always have to treat them equally. Now, you may decide you want to do, in fact, just that, but you also may decide that one of your children is in a pretty needy situation. And as long as you're not enabling them to continue to have bad habits in terms of how they're managing God's money, if it's really perhaps a desperate situation or something beyond their control and you want to be a blessing, then you absolutely could go ahead and make that gift. And, you know, that would be something perhaps that you could do in a way that is going to encourage the right behaviors moving forward. Or you may say, no, I really do want to make this equal and therefore I'm going to take it and split it down the middle.

I'm going to perhaps make one of the gifts now. You may hold on to the other one, but earmark it for the other child and give it at the appropriate time. I think that's something you just need to ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment and then make that decision. There's not a right or wrong answer there.

So long as, again, you're not enabling the child to continue to make poor decisions by perhaps rescuing them from a situation where they're repeating the same mistakes over and over again. And you're just going to prolong some of that. So I hope that's helpful to you and gives you some direction. Elizabeth, thank you very much. That's a great question.

And we hope things work out well for you as you make these choices and decisions. So Rob, she'll have to pay income tax on that money, is that right? Yeah, that's exactly right.

So at a beneficiary with an inherited IRA, no early withdrawal penalty if you take it out even before 59 and a half, but you do pay taxes on the money that is withdrawn. Okay. This is MoneyWise Live if you happen to be tuning in right now. And again, here's our phone number 800-525-7000. On this program, we talk about the importance of getting out of debt, developing a budget or a spending plan, having an emergency fund, living within your means, all those kinds of things.

Well, if you need some personalized help with those things, because they're easy to talk about, but sometimes not necessarily that easy to institute and to work out on a personal basis. If you need some face-to-face help with that, you might want to connect with a coach. Connect with one of our MoneyWise coaches.

We have them all across the country. And you can do that when you visit our website, which is MoneyWiseLive.org. And among all the other resources and materials you see there, you'll see a box that says connect with a coach, another box that will allow you to connect with a certified Kingdom advisor. So check all that out today. I think maybe those coaches would be a great help to many of you.

Connect with a coach at MoneyWiseLive.org. And we'll be right back. Here's a thought. Here's a principle from James 4.

James 4-3, you ask and you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures. Here's our phone number again, 800-525-7000. If you have a question, comment, or concern for Rob West today, he's taking all of those. Tomorrow we might get into some medical things, but we have our attorneys working in that. We don't have a definite response yet, right, Rob? Medical questions. I have no idea what you're talking about.

I mean, if you had a wart and you wanted to remove it with a Brillo pad, would that be a wise thing to do or should you consult with an actual physician? I'm just thinking out loud here. Got it.

Physician. Yes. Yeah. All right. Thanks, Rob. It's always a pleasure, sir.

Chicago, Illinois. Hi, Esther. Welcome to the program. How can we help you?

Hi, thank you for taking my call. I heard on a previous show where a woman sold stock with a profit of a million dollars. Rob West said she could have donated some of the profit to charity to lower her taxes before she sold the stock. My question is, is that possible with selling rental property? We are selling our rental property this summer and we want to know if we can donate to the charity before the sale to lower paying taxes on the profit. Yes. Well, I don't know who that Rob West guy is, but you've got to be careful listening to him.

No, I'm just kidding. You're exactly right here, Esther, and I love the way you're thinking because this is how we give wisely. And, you know, we talk with our friends at the National Christian Foundation about this all the time, and it's non-cash giving. You see, we can give away appreciated assets like business interests and securities before the sale, meaning stock investments, and yes, real estate, and reduce taxes and thereby send more to charity.

How do you do it? Well, you donate the non-cash asset first, and then what typically happens is you receive the tax deduction for the fair market value of your gift. So more goes to charity because the capital gains taxes you save from giving the asset directly means more goes to support the causes that you care about. And then because you receive the full tax deduction of the fair market value, you see significant savings on your income tax returns. And then you might say, Rob, it sounds like everybody wins. And I would say, yes, isn't that great?

Everybody does win. More money into the kingdom, less taxes for you, and it's a really great thing. So where do you go from here, Esther? Well, you're right in that you have to do it first, and I'm actually going to refer you to NCF, the National Christian Foundation. In fact, one of their local offices is right there in Chicago, and they would be delighted to sit down with you. You could make the donation directly to NCF, and then when it's sold, the money or whatever portion of the real estate you place into probably what's called a donor advised fund, whatever portion you placed into the DAF, the donor advised fund, after the sale goes right into the donor advised fund. And then think of it like a charitable checking account.

You get the full tax deduction in the year of the sale and therefore the gift. And then you would be able to then disperse it at your discretion to your church, whatever ministries you want. It's really a beautiful thing.

So here's what I want you to do. Go to ncfgiving.com. That's National Christian Foundation, ncfgiving.com.

Connect with the Chicago office and give them a call, and they'll talk to you about how this works. Does that make sense? Yes, it does.

Thank you so much. I have one more question if you have time. Yes, go right ahead. Sure. Is it still wise to invest in mutual funds with what is going on in our current economy?

Yeah, it's a great question, and I would say absolutely. The U.S. stock market is still the very best place for you to build wealth over the long haul. Just think about what happened last year, Esther. I mean, we came through a glow and we're not through it yet, but we were in a global pandemic. We still are. And look at what happened in the stock market. I mean, we saw the fastest decline from bull market to bear market in history back in March of 2020. But then the market came roaring back because remember, it's forward looking.

And yes, we've got some things we're going to have to deal with down the road. We've got U.S. national debt that continues to climb. In fact, it's about to surpass or maybe has just recently surpassed the U.S. gross domestic product. But we're still the largest economy in the world.

And I think it's still sound. And the companies here in the United States and even other parts of the world that you would be investing in if you're in a high quality mutual fund, earnings are good. And most economists that are believers that I talk to are saying this is going to be a good year. It's probably not going to be as up as much as last year. But again, when we're investing, we need to be investing for the long haul, which doesn't mean we're looking out three or six or 12 months. It means we're looking out five and 10 years. And historically speaking, and I don't think this has changed the stock market with a properly diversified portfolio, it was going to be the very best place for you to build wealth with the least risk over the long haul. Thank you, Esther.

Mike, Champaign, Illinois. Mike, it looks like my screen is telling me, Mike, that maybe you're a little concerned about the economy as well, huh? Yeah, you guys have just about answered my question already.

Well, go right ahead. I'm real concerned about the fourteen, fifteen, eighteen, twenty four trillion dollar debt, whatever the number is, you know, the politicians used to be vocal about a two trillion dollar debt like it was just awful and we don't hear about it anymore. But what if, OK, what if we all wake up one day, we find out that the dollar is no longer the reserve currency in the world or there's a run on the banks or U.S. would default on its debt payment. I mean, what what happens at that point? Does it matter whether we would have saved money in a safe run of the mattress at home or that kind of thing? I mean, what happened?

What happens to the money at that point? Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think you're you're you're making a great point here, Mike.

And that is you're right. I mean, we have some challenges ahead. There's no doubt that the U.S. national debt is continuing to climb at unprecedented paces. And it'd be one thing if it was only happening during really challenging times like we've had over the last year. It's another thing when it continues to climb, even during the 10 years prior, when we should have had balanced budgets and budget surpluses, not deficits, because we had a roaring economy and a stock market.

And yet we continue to add to it. The reason most economists are not worried about it yet is because with interest rates so low, the debt service on it is so low, you know, this economy can handle the current debt levels. Now, if we continue to see this rise without policymakers making some hard decisions and beginning to see it roll over at some point in the future, the reckoning will come at some point.

And we're going to have to deal with it. But I would just tell you, when our backs are against the wall here in the United States, we tend to do what we have to do to make the hard choices. So this is not something I'd be worried about if we had a you said a collapse of the economy or the dollar, something like that. I don't think it really matters where your money is, but I don't think that's on the horizon anytime soon.

In fact, you know, for all intents and purposes, we have no reason to believe we'll ever see that again. We're still the largest economy by nominal GDP and net worth in the world, the second largest by purchasing power and the fifth largest per capita GDP. So this is a massive economy that is working and functioning quite well. And we have central bakers and policymakers that are willing to do whatever they have to to support it whenever we get into difficult times. But at some point, again, the policymakers are going to have to make some hard choices with regard to the debt and with regard to the entitlement programs. But I think the end of the day, what we have to be found faithful with is what God has entrusted to us.

The question is, how am I handling what passes through my hands? And I think we just got to be prudent and apply the principles we find in God's word. We're giving generously. We're living on less than we make. We have contentment. We're saving for the future.

We're paying down and ultimately paying off debt. And if you do that, you've put yourself in a position to experience God's best. I don't think we need to live in fear. We need to live with faith and trust God, who is our provider. And I don't think there's any reason to pull your money out of the bank and put it under the mattress or dig a hole in the backyard.

I'm confident as long as you're handling what God has entrusted to you well, you're doing the right thing. Mike, we appreciate that call. If you do decide to dig a hole, remember there's a number you're supposed to call first before you dig any holes. The gas company will appreciate it, as will your neighbors. Rob, a quick email. This is from our friend in Newark. He says, I have a friend in need, Rob.

Should I use my emergency funds for his emergency? Yeah, interesting. I mean, I would never stop somebody who really feels compelled to give. I just think that's what we need to be doing. We need to be doing. We need to love our neighbor as ourself, right?

It's the second greatest command. And so I think if the Lord prompts you to give, give and give generously. But that's not an excuse for not living in such a way that you can't replenish that. Because what we know is that God's given you enough for you to live within your means. And therefore, if you're depleting those funds, the unexpected will come. And so I think you need to make a concerted effort to replenish that. But by all means, if the Lord's encouraging you to help somebody in need, I would say go for it.

Let me throw you a knuckleball here. What if you know someone in need? You verified the need. They're a friend of yours, maybe a relative. You don't know if they know Christ or not. Would it be okay to use your tithe money to help that person instead of giving it to your local church?

Yeah. You know, again, I don't want to be legalistic about the tithe. I think, you know, the starting point would be to be faithful to your local church.

And I think that's where we need to begin. And I think we should be ordering our finances, Steve, in such a way that allows us to have that be the beginning point of our giving, not the end. Which means we have more than that going into a fund that we can use to give at our discretion as the Lord leads, even sacrificially. And so if we're living that way, then we don't have to make that choice and put those two things at odds with one another.

We can be faithful, giving on the increase systematically to the church, and yet be poised and ready and able to respond to the leading of the Lord for additional gifts beyond that. All right. Well said, Rob.

Thanks very much. If you have an email question you'd like to send Rob, keep it brief, just a couple of lines. Then the address is questions at moneywise.org. You won't have to be on the air. You can send us along. We get to them just as often as we can. Questions at moneywise.org.

And Money Wise Live is a partnership between Moody Radio and Money Wise Media. Thanks so much for listening. Stay warm, healthy, and blessed. Join us again tomorrow.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-28 18:06:31 / 2023-12-28 18:24:07 / 18

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