discount

Yes, I admit it. I should be in Cheapskate’s Anonymous, although I prefer to be called frugal. But you can call me cheap if you want, I really don’t care. I’m not completely cheap, though. I’ll spend money on things I care about, but I will never try to jeopardize my financial future. I always have not only the future consequences of all of my actions in mind, but the eternal consequences as well. See, we as believers are governed by something higher than this world’s economy, rules, regulations, and government. We must answer to a higher being not only here on earth but in eternity as well. We must be held accountable to God.

That being said, I always ask for a discount. I think that it is wise and being a good steward to try and get the best value for your dollar on everything. I’m not talking about taking advantage of people. I’m talking about using the money and resources God has blessed us with to get the best deal possible without hurting anyone. Everywhere I go shopping, I ask for a discount. If you’re a student, ask for a student discount. If you’re a senior citizen, ask for the discount. If you’re in the military, ask for the military discount. Even if you don’t fit in any of those, ask for a discount. When you’re checking into a hotel, ask if there’s a better rate. My philosophy is that it doesn’t hurt to ask, and the worst that can happen is that they say no.

It doesn’t matter who’s watching or if you’re going to be embarrassed asking for a discount or for using coupons. You’re never going to see the people behind you in line again. This also applies to getting “stuff” that makes you look cool. That’s why we shouldn’t buy things to impress other people. Like that shiny, fancy, new car that you want because it will make you look successful. The people you pass up on the freeway will never see you again. And their opinion doesn’t really matter anyway. The people who matter most are your family and true friends, and especially God. Everything else doesn’t really matter except who you are in God’s eyes.

So always ask for a discount and live a life that’s pleasing to God Almighty. I try to.

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4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.

Romans 1:4-5 (NLT)

It’s the power of his resurrection that forms the basis of our very faith! Without his death and resurrection, we wouldn’t be here today as believers. Everything in our relationship with Him rests upon the truth of His virgin birth and His glorious death and resurrection. So as we spend our day with family and friends, remember the reason is Jesus!

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1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. 4 Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5 You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

James 5:1-6 (NKJV)

From the Nelson Study Bible:

In the spirit of the Old Testament prophets, James pronounces judgment on employers who treat their employees unjustly (Is. 3:14, 15; 10:2). God will judge those who oppress the poor (see Ezek. 18:12, 13).

providentdirectlogo

I just saw a post on FatWallet that talks about the Provident Direct online high yield savings account that’s currently paying 4.50% (edit: now only 3.75%)! It seems like a good deal especially given today’s market conditions. However, the Fed is expected to drop rates again tomorrow so who knows how long this rate is going to stay competitive. Currently, it’s the highest that I know of. It’s also FDIC insured at Provident Bank which has been around since 1886. The online portion has been around since November 2007.

It says that there are no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees. You only need a dollar to open. The major downside is that withdrawals are limited to $5000 per transaction but you can do multiple transactions per day. However, savings accounts are government regulated and cannot exceed more than 6 transfers out in a month. Any withdrawals after that will be charged a $5 fee. You can bypass the $5000 limit by “pulling” from another account rather than “pushing” from the Provident account. Apparently there’s also a $25 fee for closing the account within 180 days and a$5 monthly fee if the balance dips below $300.

I’ll have a full review when I open an account in a little bit. I’m going to wait and see what happens to the rate first. It would be a great place to park my emergency fund which is currently only earning 3.85% at FNBO Direct.

smartypiglogo

In other news, there’s a new concept in the online savings space that I stumbled onto today. It’s called SmartyPig and it basically combines an online savings account with social networking. The basic premise is that you need to set goals that are funded by monthly deposits into SmartyPig. The goal is active until it is reached. The social aspect comes in when you make your goal public. People can help fund your goal by using a credit or debit card (with a $4.95 processing fee). Once goals are met, you can “withdraw” the money via MasterCard debit card or a gift card from participating retailers. At this time, there is no way to receive that money via ACH transfer in cash. This is apparently done so that it’s harder to use the money since the purpose is to save it.

Deposits are FDIC insured and held at West Bank, which has $1.3 billion in assets. Deposits also earn a very competitive 4.30%, albeit with some limitations. I think it’s a good idea, but I definitely wouldn’t use it to hold my emergency fund because it’s not liquid enough. However, I don’t think it was intended for that purpose either. I think there’s a market for this and if it helps people to set savings goals and encourages them through the social aspect, it could be a winner. I’m holding off on it for now, but maybe I’ll revisit it later. Maybe I can set up a public goal to get out of debt and you guys can contribute!

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7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Romans 13:7 (NKJV)

Yes, the Bible talks about paying taxes! Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes.” Even in Biblical times they had to pay taxes. It’s nothing to get all upset about. We have to pay taxes in the United States and most anywhere else in the world. The best thing we can do is to try and minimize our taxes as much as possible instead of complaining about them.

I haven’t filed my taxes yet although I am pretty much finished with most of it (I use computer tax software). I just need to finish up some last details and find some paperwork and I’ll be done. I’m thinking about e-filing this year just because it’s more convenient. Last year I mailed mine out after printing the forms out from my tax software and I just think e-filing is less of a hassle plus I can get my refund faster. The IRS has reported that 46.9 million taxpayers have already filed their 2007 tax returns for a total of $106.7 billion in refunds through February 22. Out of those, 38 million e-filed. The average refund is $2,708.

I’m getting about $700 back this year not including the secondary stimulus package refund that I’ll be getting later that President Bush signed. That’s still too much for me. I like to get as close to zero as possible so I may have to adjust my withholding. Remember that if you receive a large refund you’re loaning the government an interest-free loan. That’s money you could use every paycheck to help pay off debt, bolster your emergency fund, or something else. But if you don’t have the discipline to use the money wisely, it may be a good idea to keep your withholding the same so it forces you to save. The math doesn’t work out but if it works for you, it works for you.

It’s tax season so start now! The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be and the faster you’ll get your tax refund. Plus you may be eligible for the stimulus refund. God bless!

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warrenbuffet

Warren Buffett is now the richest man in the world with an estimated $62 billion mostly due to the stock price of Berkshire Hathaway (his company). Mexican Carlos Slim is now at number two with an estimated $60 billion fortune. He was number one for a little while. Bill Gates is now number three with $58 billion. He was the world’s richest man for 13 straight years.

Buffett seems to have been born with an entrepreneurial spirit. The most well-known investor bought his first stock at age 11 and he filed his first tax return at age 13 while delivering newspapers.

What can we learn from Warren Buffett? People with wealth don’t necessarily have to flaunt it. He still lives in the same house he bought in 1958 for $31,500 and drives a Cadillac DTS. He will give away most of his fortune at his death to charity with 83% going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He currently gives 5% of his shares in Berkshire Hathaway to charity every year.

The principles of biblical finances applies even to unbelievers. The principle of sowing and reaping applies because it is God’s law. God blesses those who give, but that shouldn’t be the reason we give! We give because we love God.

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Free Money Finance (great blog by the way, and is on my blogroll) is doing its annual March Madness event again! Christian Finance Blog is once again participating in it and there are two posts that I’ve entered! Last year, I never made it past the first round, so hopefully I’ll go further this time so please vote for my posts! The first one is in round 1 game 9 with my post titled “Fed Cuts Rates Again: Here’s Your Action Plan“. Check it out and check out the Free Money Finance Blog.