“Your Finances in Perilous Times” On-Line Seminar

* Comprehensive and innovative approach to Bible-based personal financial transformation.
   ** Built on the three questions God asks of you if you want to make a spiritual and financial difference in His Kingdom.
   ** Discover & apply the Ephesians Chapter 6 links between spiritual warfare, God's spiritual armor and your personal finances.
   ** Dig deep into six critical biblical "money" verses.
   ** Learn some Greek, see some Jewish "word pictures," and have some fun along the way.
* 50 Web-based sessions presented through a unique, interactive educational web site. 
   **  Includes 35 one-to-one personalized video coaching sessions (average: 37 minutes each).
   ** Video graphics include historic faith-based art, modern day photography, movie and TV video clips, and Power Points.
   ** Videos, audios, transcripts, Power Points and supplemental materials are all downloadable for you to keep, use, and share. 
   ** High accountability required to include homework and blogging assignments.
* Built on 26 years ministry experience working with Bible-based financial authors & teachers like Dave Ramsey & Larry Burkett.
       Click here for the "Academy Landing page" & more Seminar info
A $ Word For Today

                                                              A Runaway Lifestyle
Picture a small child at a picnic whose paper plate is starting to bend at the edges because of a mountain of potato salad. How do you respond? Do you toss a few dinner rolls on to the plate? Drop another chicken thigh on top? Of course not! That would all but assure the plate’s failure.    

Inexplicably though, when we see the plates of our everyday lives bending from the weight of our schedules and commitments, frequently our response is to add even more to it! There is nothing about this runaway lifestyle that even remotely aligns with God’s design for us. That is what makes our time stewardship warped. (Steve Ganger) (Jan 23)

Quote for Today

"All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy." Wayne Dyer, Teacher (Jan 23)

Ask Bob

Are you better at asking financial questions than you are at finding answers?  “Ask Bob” utilizes a question-and-answer format to respond to your “money” questions.  Each week Bob will prayerfully respond to as many of your questions as possible based on his 30+ years as a financial coach and counselor.  You may view previous questions and responses at the “Ask Bob” page.

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Recent Questions & Answers

Question::  “Rev. Louder. My husband and I both work.  Should we tithe from our total income, or just my husband’s income, since I plan to only work for a short time?”  Bob’s Response: I believe you should give whatever God convicts both of you to give–not each of you but both of you (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-7).  According to the Bible you are to give based on whatever comes into your possession, and in your case that would include both salaries.  I also encourage you not to consider any income as “yours” or “his” but “ours.”  God looks at a married couple as “one” (Gen. 2:24). (Jan 23)

Some people are not Christians, they worship the enemy and they have an abundance of finances. Why? Doris. Bob’s Response: Doris, folks have been asking why the wicked prosper for hundreds and hundreds of years.  In Job 21 you will find that Job had the same question. He wondered why it seemed like the evil people in his world were living easy lives, growing rich, prospering and living in peace, while he, a righteous man, was suffering. These circumstances of life didn’t seem fair to Job back then and they don’t seem fair to many people (including many Christians) today. Second Corinthians 9:6 assures us that we will reap what we sow. In fact, the final chapter of the human story will be read at the end of time, at God’s final judgment, when “God will give to each person according to what he has done” (Romans 2:6). We sometimes make the mistake of thinking delayed judgment is unfair because we judge “fairness” by the swiftness of reward or punishment. In this life we do see evil people flourish and righteous people suffer, which is a hard issue to reconcile. But we know that we live in a fallen world, and we do not have all the answers. We do, however, have faith, and we do know that God is fair and merciful, allowing unrepentant people the greatest possible time to turn from their sins (see 2nd Peter 3:9), while also allowing His children time to grow to their fullest measure of faith (see James 1:2-8). Because of God’s mercy, He has chosen to delay the final chapter. Had he chosen to always give in the present what humans deserve, our ending would be a tragedy rather than redemption’s final chapter. (Adapted from my “Stewardship Study Bible” study notes Jan 12) Additional Response: Remember also that God works in “all things”–not just isolated incidents–for our good. (see Romans 8:38) This doesn’t mean that all that happens to us is good. Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good. Note that God is not working to make us happy, but to fulfill His purpose. Note also that this promise is not for everybody. It can be claimed only by those who Love God and are called according to His purpose. Those who are “called” are those the Holy Spirit convinces and enables to ask Jesus Christ into their hearts as their personal Lord and Savior. Such people have a new perspective, a new mind-set on life. They trust in God, not life’s treasures; they look for their security in heaven, not on earth; they learn to accept, not resent, pain and persecution because God is with them (Jan 13)

Question: Is there a good percentage to stay within for buying a house? I have been told 2-2.5 times my yearly gross. Websites seem to suggest quite a bit more. (Will).  Bob’s Response: Will, it’s good that you question what lenders and web site tell you.  Why?  Because most of the time if you follow their advice you will end up with more home than you can afford.  Here’s an easy way to learn how much home you CAN afford.  (1) Live on a monthly budget for as long as it takes to figure out what monthly mortgage payment you can afford (principle and interest).  (2) Then check out several lenders to see how much money you can borrow based on the monthly mortgage payment you can afford. (3) Finally, the amount of money you can afford to borrow based on the monthly mortgage payment you can afford to pay, plus the amount you have as a down payment, will add up to how much you can afford to spend on a home. But beware, there is so much more to buying a home than just being able to pay the mortgage payment each month.  The basis for the answer to your question and everything else you need to know hinges on your ability to budget—to learn to spend less than you make over time.  If the web sites and lenders won’t help you develop a workable budget, don’t follow their advice. (Dec 12)

Question: “My husband and I are considering rolling over my small traditional IRA which I have in mutual funds to a gold IRA.  From a Christian point of view, is this wise?”  Christine.    Bob’s Response:  Hi Christine, and thank your for your questionThe bottom line is that yes, moving from a stock IRA to a gold IRA seems like a good idea so long as your “attitude” about “investing” is pleasing to God.  Please let me explain.  A good definition of “investing” could go something like this: “Investing is the management of funds to generate a potential profit.”  In past coaching sessions I’ve seen that sometimes Christians are confused about the concept of investing.  Some devote their entire lives to investing, thinking that somehow they can buffer themselves from all the world’s ills simply by having enough finances.  Others take a contrary believe that investing is strictly a secular activity and Christians should have nothing to do with it.  I believe, according to the Bible, BOTH views are unbalanced and BOTH are not pleasing to God.  God spends a great deal of time in His Word talking about investing: never at the cost of today’s provisions but always to prayerfully satisfy future needs such as educating children, supplementing income in old age, helping others and many other activities that are perfectly legitimate under God’s Word, including the need to store up some wealth for future needs within the body of Christ.  So, it’s not “investing” in and of itself that’s either scriptural or non-scriptural. It’s your attitude and your reason to invest that either pleasing or not pleasing to God.  That being said–back to the top of this post. Yes, so long as your attitude is “right” before the LORD, then moving from a stock IRA to a gold IRA seems like a good thing to do. I am NOT an investment counselor, however if I prayerfully chose to “invest” in gold (or silver) I would investigate and probably go with physical gold and/or silver and/or Exchange Traded Funds and not invest in individual gold or silver companies. There’s a lot of info on the Internet about both.  Hope this helps.  Bob (Dec 8)

Question: Bob, is it proper for us to use part of our tithe to keep our children in Christian school?  Bob’s Response: According to the Bible, your tithe belongs to God and represents your conviction that God owns “it all” and you job is to properly manage all that He places into your hands. When you take a portion of your tithe and use it to keep your children in a Christian school, you are really giving a gift of self-interest. The cost of your children’s education is a normal cost of raising your children and should be funded from your budget after you tithe.  (Oct 29)

Question: My wife and I are Christians.  However, none of my children (all adults) have prayed to ask Jesus into their hearts as their Lord and Savior.  God has given my wife and I a large number of assets and quite a lot of money.  We are updating our wills.  I don’t feel right leaving all that we have to our children as we haven’t communicated with them for a long time, and since they are not following God. Is it wise for me to leave my money to them?  What do the Scriptures say? Bob’s Response: Scripture is clear. As long as your children are under your care, you have a responsibility to support them. However, if they no longer are under your care and are no longer dependent on you, then all that the Lord has given you is yours to do with as you believe God leads–if you don’t want to leave anything to your adult children, you don’t have to. Having said that, I strongly recommend that you and those close to you pray about this decision–especially pray about this with your wife! You and she need to be absolutely sure of God’s direction to you.  Also, be prayerfully careful not to use the assets God has given you to “punish” or “get even” with your children. It may be that by leaving them something, you would have one last chance to share with them God’s message of salvation!  Another alternative might be to leave something for your children in a trust that would be paid out later under very specific and controlled conditions. (Oct 18)

Question:  “Bob.  My two grown children are not handling their money properly, and my two grandchildren are sometimes going without clothing, food, and other necessities.  I want to help, but I don’t want to interfere.  What do you suggest?”  Bob’s Response: Your caution here shows good judgment.  If God is trying to teach your children discipline and you step in, they may have to go through it all again.  If your children are truly needy (for example they are involuntarily unemployed or underemployed) and you have the finances to help (without borrowing) then you and your spouse should pray together–mutually agree whether or not to help.  (Note: Your own children are no less deserving of your help than anybody else who is needy.)   How do you help?  If you’re going to help, I strongly suggest you make it contingent on your children getting professional help to better handle their finances.  If you prayerfully agree to help then you need to also prayerfully agree on how, how much, how often, requirements, etc.  I strongly suggest you don’t give your children money to meet their needs and absolutely do not lend your children any money.  Rather, you take the grandchildren shopping and you buy the clothes.  You write the check to pay the utility bills.  You may want to give them a gift card that only buys food…you get the idea.  It’s not wise to give folks more of what they can’t manage.  HOWEVER, if their income is adequate but mismanaged or if they choose not to work, you may have to be willing to let them suffer a little until they have the motivation to change.  True, 1 Timothy 5:3 says you are to care for your own family.  But 2 Thess 3:10-13 tells you that you are not to help those who won’t help themselves–you are to help those who can’t help themselves, and there’s a difference. (Oct 13)

Question: Hi Bob.  I find that the older I get the more I worry about the future, especially my financial future.  For example, how would I earn a living if I lost my job, or, what would happen if I can’t afford to retire.  Honestly, sometimes it seems like I’m almost paralyzed by fear of the future.  I know it’s wrong, so how can I change? Bob’s Response: Worry or being preoccupied about the future is taking on a responsibility that belongs to God.  In other words, according to the Bible, worry is God’s job as the “Owner.”  Worry is not your job as a steward or a manager.  The Lord said,  “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matt.6:31:32).  My friend, again according to the Bible, worry is not your problem.  Worry is an outside indicator or symptom of an inside spiritual problem.  It seems that most of your worries may be based on possible future circumstances, not current circumstances.  It’s these “what if’s” that seem to cause you the most grief.  If you are like most, the Lord and you can handle all your current situations, even a bad situations, but it sounds like you tend to go into depression when you think about the future, particularly your financial future.  So, how can you handle your worry?  Stop, confess that you have assumed God’s responsibility, and turn that area of your life over to the Lord, and seek help from your church and/or from a Bible-based financial coach. God doesn’t expect for you to handle these “situations” by yourself! (Oct 2)

Question: Bob, it seems that God’s financial blessings have dried up for me and my family.  I’m a Christian, but am really struggling financially.  What do you suggest?  Bob’s Response: My friend, if you are struggling with financial burdens, take heart.  God has promised to meet all your needs if you are a child of His and living according to His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).  If you are faithful in your tithing and giving of offerings, He has promised to give you an overabundance of blessing (Malachi 3:8-10). Now, God’s financial blessings for you may be stopped because of disobedience.  In fact, your greatest need may be spiritual rather than financial.  Ask Him if there is something lacking in your life. Seek to know His will for you life.  Trust Him to meet all your needs. Also, the devil may have your financial blessings bound, as with Job, so that you can’t receive them.  Bind the devil and call on God to send ministering angels (Hebrews 1:14).  Command the devil to loose God’s blessings.  Also, fasting may be the instrument you need to loose yokes and break bonds (see Isaiah 58:6 for the motives for fasting).  Finally, seek help!  Our “Academy” won’t be available for you until early next year.  However you can reach out for help RIGHT NOW by contacting Crown Financial Ministries (www.crown.org) or the Dave Ramsey organization (www.daveramsey.com). Bob (Sept 16)

Question: “My husband and I are considering rolling over my small traditional IRA which I have in mutual funds to a gold IRA.  From a Christian point of view, is this wise?”  Christine.    Bob’s Response:  Hi Christine, and thank your for your question.  The bottom line is that yes, moving from a stock IRA to a gold IRA seems like a good idea so long as your “attitude” about “investing” is pleasing to God.  Please let me explain.  A good definition of “investing” could go something like this: “Investing is the management of funds to generate a potential profit.”  In past coaching sessions I’ve seen that sometimes Christians are confused about the concept of investing.  Some devote their entire lives to investing, thinking that somehow they can buffer themselves from all the world’s ills simply by having enough finances.  Others take a contrary view and believe that investing is strictly a secular activity and Christians should have nothing to do with it.  I believe, according to the Bible, BOTH views are unbalanced and BOTH are not pleasing to God.  God spends a great deal of time in His Word talking about investing: never at the cost of today’s provisions but always to prayerfully satisfy future needs such as educating children, supplementing income in old age, helping others and many other activities that are perfectly legitimate under God’s Word, including the need to store up some wealth for future needs within the body of Christ.  So, it’s not “investing” in and of itself that’s either scriptural or non-scriptural. It’s your attitude and your reason to invest that either pleasing or not pleasing to God.  That being said–back to the top of this post. Yes, so long as your attitude is “right” before the LORD, then moving from a stock IRA to a gold IRA seems like a good thing to do. I am NOT an investment counselor, however if I prayerfully chose to “invest” in gold (or silver) I would normally investigate and probably go with Exchange Traded Funds and not invest in individual gold or silver companies. But these are not normal times.  Therefore, I would shop around and “invest” in American Eagle Silver Dollars–again, my personal opinion.  There’s a lot of info on the Internet about investing in precious metals.  Hope this helps.  Bob (Sept 6)

Question:  “Bob, I’m the wife and it’s been my job to keep our finances in order.  I’m OK with this mostly because I have the time and my husband doesn’t.  However, I heard a Christian teacher say that the finances are the husband’s responsibility.  What do you think.”  Bob’s Response:  Larry Burkett used to say that if God put two identical people together, one of them wouldn’t be necessary.  You and your husband are partners including financial partners.  Partnerships usually have divided responsibilities.  With regard to your family finances, it’s just fine for you to keep the books if you have the ability and the time.  HOWEVER, you shouldn’t be required to make all the financial decisions.  AND, if financial problems come up such as delinquent bills, your husband should step in and deal with the creditors.  Remember, your husband is the spiritual leader of your home, it’s his job to bear the emotional pressures of creditor harassments.  The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).    When it gets right down to it, if you are the better bookkeeper, then you keep the books but make sure you have regular “money meetings” with your husband. (Aug 16)

Question: “Is it scripturally okay to have a financial counselor to invest my pension? He is very knowledgeable and has been advising me up to this point. I have paid him no money for these 3 visits but now he wants me to make a commitment in order to continue. I have about 130,000 to invest when I retire from teaching this year. I want to do God’s will above all else. Thanks for your help.”  Bob’s Response: God has given you that pension…agreed?  And, according to the Bible, God has also given you the responsibility to manage all that he gives you…agreed?  Therefore, it seems to me that you only have two options to manage that pension.  You can either (1) become a qualified and experienced Bible-based financial investment expert and manage the pension yourself, or you can (2) find a qualified and experienced Bible-based financial investment expert to work with you to manage your pension (note the word “with”).  One of the qualification your counselor should have is the ability and the time to teach and train you to make the best Bible-based financial decisions possible.  Do not simply turn over you pension to someone else to manage without understanding and approving what he/she does.   Remember, YOU are the God-appointed steward or manager of all that God places into your hands.  A couple of other points: PRAYERFULLY (1) Google “how to select an honest financial investment counselor, (2)  Check out each possible counselor with the Better Business Bureau, (3) get references from folks who are in the same basic financial situation as you, and  (4) understand how and when and on what basis that counselor will be paid.  Pray at each step along the way.  Remember, God gave you that pension and He will give you the help you need to manage it…if you ask.       

Question: “Good evening, I am a recent widow since 2012, my husband was very ill–since that time I can barely make it financially.  Bills are mounting, no insurance, I am struggling monthly.  I have tried rent banks, mpp, government offices–no aid available to a working widow making over 24,000″  Bob’s Response:  Hi Barbara, and thank you for your email.  I suggest you contact either Crown Financial Ministries at www.crown.org or the Dave Ramsey folks at www.daveramsey.com.  Prayerfully, one of these organizations will have someone in your area to help you face-to-face. I apologize that we are not able to help you ourselves.  However, we are totally focused on developing our Internet-based “Financial Freedom God’s Way Academy.”  God willing both the Academy materials and a group of initial Academy moderators will be up and ready to go by early in 2015.  

Question: We are a blended family, we are trying to come up with a trust, how and what to leave to who. My 2 adult children are living far from God, his 2 are in a “Christian Cult” We are not very close to any of them. We do have 3 grandchildren too. We want to know God’s principals on inheritance and giving on what is left after we die. What would be good to read to give us the Biblical perspective.  Bob’s Response: First of all, I don’t know of any particular Bible-based resources I can refer to you…maybe the Dave Ramsey organization at www.daveramsey.com or perhaps Crown Financial Ministries at www.crown.org.  However, two things from God’s Word.  First, God expects you and your husband to be good stewards of all that He has given you (which is everything).  This stewardship does not end after your death…you are also to exhibit good stewardship now as you direct how funds/resources are to be used and/or distributed after you die.  (Personally, I would have a real problem giving an inheritance to those whom I know would not steward that inheritance in ways that would be pleasing to God.  Having said that, I have NOT prayed and asked God for input regarding my family.)  Second, Proverbs 13:22 says that “…a good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s  children…”   Also, in the New Testament you are told not to store up treasure on earth (Matt. 6:19-21).  But, nowhere does it say you can’t leave whatever remaining wealth you have (in spite of being generous givers) to your children.  All-in-all, you are headed in the right direction–you are seeking advice.  Keep it up.  Pray expectantly.  At some point you will need to make a decision.  When that time comes I suggest you prayerfully reconsider all God has given you through prayer and advice from others, then you and your husband make the best decision you can, based on what God has shown you, where you are, at the time–then leave that decision in God’s hands. 

Question: “Bob, my wife is 63 and only has $20,000.00 in her 401k…we think this amount of money less taxes would be more effectively used to pay down cc debt balances for the next 3 years and prepare the way for less cc debt and monthly payment outgoing ?”  Bob’s Response: Great thinking!  HOWEVER, also consider the following: (1) Do you know how much cash you can spend on your credit card debt AFTER taxes and penalties?(2) Do you know why you spent more than you made using your credit cards?  Have you solved that issue?  (3) Do you have a plan in place to keep you from overspending on your credit cards in the future?  Remember the three rules for using your credit card–buy only what’s on your budget, pay of the credit card balance each month, and the first month you can’t pay off the full balance, stop using the credit card until that balance is paid off. (4) All of that brings us to this question: Are you now living on a budget?  You need to have a plan–a step-by-step plan to get out of debt and plan for your retirement and plan for all that falls in between.   For right now, I suggest you get a copy of  Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Make Over Workbook”–not the hardback but the workbook.  (5) And one final thought: make sure the Lord and you and your wife agree on the plan you decide to follow–make sure you and your wife are prayerfully tithing and working together.  If the three of you can pull all of this together then I agree with using the post-tax and penalties cash from her 401k to pay off your credit cards.  One final, final thought.  Get some help.  Contact the Dave Ramsey organization and see if they can link you up with a coach in your area (www.daveramsey.com).

Question: “My father died in Dec and I will soon inherit close to $400,000.  I am 64 and plan to work for 2 more years before retiring.  I do not know where to put my money.”  Bob’s Response: First of all, I’m sorry for your loss.  Second, I’m not an investment coach but here are two points to consider.  First, the Bible says you are to joyfully and obediently tithe from all our first fruits/everything that God brings to you (these funds are from God through your dad–see Deut 8:17-18).  So, my first suggestion is to prayerfully tithe on the inheritance when you receive it recalling that the Bible says that the tithe should go to the “storehouse” or the church where you worship.  Second point: From the sound of your question, I assume you are not an accomplished investor.  Even if you were an accomplished investor I would give your the same prayerful recommendation.  DO NOT INVEST INTO THE STOCK MARKET IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, or FORM!  Don’t risk the funds.  I suggest you speak to your credit union/bank and place the funds into a savings account.  Granted that won’t produce much interest but it will be immediately available to you when you need it.  Most importantly, begin to pray and ask God what He has in mind for the funds that remain after you tithe.  Perhaps He would have you help supply the needs of someone in your community, or missionaries, or…..  The point is, look beyond “self” and ask God to lead you to “steward” His funds in ways that are pleasing to Him.  This is not to say that God would have you to give everything away, He may but He may also have a plan to use some or all of the after-tithe funds to help provide for your needs as well.  The point is–you need to ask for His direction, expect to receive what you ask for, then do as He says.

Question: “Reverend Louder, our only daughter is engaged to a great young Christian man who is going to soon graduate from Bible school and become a juvenile counselor at a local church.  As you might expect, he won’t be making much money.  My wife believes that we should help them buy a home and a car and supplement their monthly budget.  I’m not so sure.  What are your thoughts?” Bob’s Response:  Keep in mind that the Bible says that when a man gets married, he should leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife.  Regarding supplementing their monthly income: I suggest not.  My concern would be that you may be encouraging them to depend on you rather than God and each other. Regarding helping them buy a home: yes, possibly.  I would prayerfully suggest that they spend a year or so learning how to live with each other and learning how to live on a budget.  That way they will have a better idea how they each are wired to work with money plus by that time they will also have good ideal of how much house they can afford on a monthly basis.  At that point perhaps you can help them with the down payment.  Absolutely do not co-sign for a home loan.  Finally, helping your newlyweds with a car (late model, not new) is a great idea.  However, make sure you title the car in their name and make sure that they know the car is theirs not hers.  That way the car can’t become a threat during any argument.  The bottom line is that it’s great to help young folks get started financially.  However you need to prayerfully make sure that you are not encouraging them to live beyond their means.  God can provide for them just as He has for you.  Allow them the opportunity to trust Him in their finances.  One final thought, don’t do anything until you and your wife agree on what you will and will not do.

Question: “Do I tithe before or after I pay my bills?  Or, even more basically, should I tithe before I pay my bills even if after I tithe I won’t have enough to pay my bills?”  Bob’s Response:  Here are five things to prayerfully consider:   (1) I‘m sure you know that most times a farmer will keep part of his harvest as seed stock for the next planting season.  Right?  Well, as a Christian, your tithe is your seed stock (2 Corinthians 9:10)!  (2) Then you have Proverbs 3:9-10 that tells you to honor God from your “first fruits.”  Therefore, the first portion of everything you receive belongs to God, not to anyone or anything else to include your creditors or even the IRS.  (3) Now, I have had some folks tell me that they don’t think it very honoring to God to tithe while they still owe their creditors.  Well, try to tell that to the IRS.  What do you suppose the IRS would say or do if you sent them a letter saying, “Sorry, I can’t pay my taxes because I’m in debt–I’ll pay my taxes as soon as I’m out of debt.”  Why do most folks pay their taxes?  Because they fear the IRS.  Well, I contend you should “fear” (honor, respect, obey, etc.) the Lord more than you “fear” your creditors to include the IRS.  (4) For example, how could you handle your creditors (including the IRS) if you can’t pay some or all of what you owe because you choose to honor the tithe?  One way would be to share with them the principle of the tithe—that it’s your commitment to your God, not to your church.  You can also share that data shows that most of those who tithe are almost always better money handlers, and that as a result of their commitment to God, they honor the commitments to their creditors.  My experience is that few creditors will object after you write them a letter with those or similar words—they will likely offer to negotiate a temporary repayment schedule.  In fact, almost everyone—including your creditors—respects that commitment, even through most may not be Christians themselves (not so sure that would include the IRS).  God’s Word says that if you tithe, God will give you His wisdom (Deut. 14:23).  If there were ever anyone in the world who needs God’s wisdom in finances, it would have to be anyone who happens to be in debt.  (5) On the other hand, if after you write those or similar words to your creditor (IRS) be prepared for some negative consequences if they choose not to honor your request.  Then you will need to prayerfully follow the conviction of your heart.  If you decide to tithe—then cut everything else you can to pay as much of your debt as possible.  If you can’t cut enough to pay your debts after tithing then send what you can to your creditors with a written explanation of your biblical conviction, a copy of your budget, and a promise to pay the balance or get back on schedule as quickly as you can.  That may result in an offer set up an adjusted repayment plan.  WARNING: If you choose not to pay so you can tithe you may face some negative consequences—so don’t be surprised and don’t complain when those negative consequences show up.  Remember, the “borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

Question: Hi Bob! My wife and I have about $20,000 in credit debt. I am 44 and my wife is 37. We have some retirement income in the form of a Roth and my wife’s 403B from work. As Christ followers we want to be good stewards. Should we pay off any of our credit debt using our ret income? What about consolidating it into our mortgage through a refi? We both work part-time right now. I do Personal fitness training and my wife is a Ped. RN. My income fluctuates throughout the year which makes it tricky to budget. I should be bringing in some better income soon as I have acquired a service to assist me in getting more clients. My credit score is too low to do the refi right now, so another idea was to bring my higher than 50% of the limit balances down below 50% to help get my credit in better shape. I appreciate any wisdom you can share with my wife and I as we have three young children we are trying to raise during this time of financial struggle for us.  Bob’s Response: I would suggest you first set up a budget then allocate as much as you can to get rid of your credit card debt.  BUT, you also have to see why you have that credit card debt–medical emergency, daily living, etc.  It won’t do you any good to pay off your credit cards if you are living above your income therefore requiring the use of credit.  Best idea: go to www.daveramsey.com and get involved with his “Financial Peace University” as quickly as possible.  Then sign up for our next “Your Finances in Perilous Times” Seminar set to start right after the start of the year.  Why both?  Because you need both spiritual (our Seminar) and practical tools (Financial Peace University)–one without the other won’t work for the long term.

Question:  Dr. Bob, My husband believes it best to tithe on our after-tax income because the taxes are not ours to spend–I believe we should tithe on our total income before taxes or any other deductions  He also doesn’t believe we should tithe 10%–I  believe the 10% is just the starting place to tithe.  Who is right?  Bob’s Response:   First of all, please take a look at 2 Corinthians 9:7 again, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  I don’t believe God is concerned with the percentage you give.  However, I don’t find that He ever asks for any less than 10% as a tithe–more sometimes but not less.  Also, according to Proverbs 3:9, you are to honor God from the first fruits of your harvest.  To me this means that you would give based on your before-tax income.  But honestly, what I believe is best is not the question here.  Yes, you and your husband need to come into agreement on this.  Assuming that both you and your husband have prayed to ask Jesus Christ into your hearts, then I suggest you both go before the Lord in the spirit of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  I suggest both of you agree not to pray for the minimum tithe you must give but for the maximum you can joyfully tithe.  As the matter of fact, whatever you two think you can joyfully tithe (as a team) stretch your faith and give just a little more, and then see how God will bless you as a result.  Recall 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever gives generously will also reap generously.”  The key is this: whatever you do, do together.  And remember also that your husband is the spiritual leader of your family.  If after you lovingly share God’s Word and your heart on this matter he decides to tithe less or in a different way that you believe best, I suggest you prayerfully go along with what he wants to tithe the way he wants to tithe it–and do it willingly with a smile on your face.  According to the Bible, God will honor your heart to tithe AND your commitment to submit to your husband.  (Not politically correct I realize, but biblical none-the-less.)

Question: My name is Mark I am 20 years old I recently just got married 4 months ago. Together we make 1600 a month. Our bills consist of: Car loan $ 225 personal loan 1 $ 75.00 personal loan 2 $ 50.00 Rent $ 595 Car insurance $ 320 Power $ 120 then plus gas and food. Please help us our bills are getting behind and we just need some kind of plan or budget so we can live victorious for Christ in this area. How do we pay our debt off and get and stay on the right track? thank you for you help Mark  Bob’s Response: Wow, I see what you mean about getting behind on your bills.  My friend, I can share with you a few things.  The first is something you already know–Jesus Christ loves the both of you more than you can imagine.  Nothing, NOTHING is ever going to change that.  Second is something I’m sure you have figured out by now–you need to immediately increase your income, cut your expenses, or both.  A third thing to prayerfully consider is to be open with your creditors–let them know you are struggling.  Show them your budget and ask if you can cut your payment (in half ?) for six months until you and your bride can get more income coming in.  Finally, I don’t see a tithe on your list.  Yes Jesus love you but do you trust Him?  I strongly suggest you prayerfully learn about and act on what God has to say about the tithe. I’m attaching a copy of our e-book so you can better understand what God has to say about money.  But you need immediate help in budgeting so I suggest you contact either Crown Financial Ministries (www.crown.org) or the Dave Ramsey organization (www.daveramsey.com).  Prayerfully they will have someone in your area you can sit down with the both of you to develop a specific plan of action.

Question: I am courting a man who is very intentional in pursuing marriage. Although he has many qualities, the fact is that he has a high debt ($80,000).  He is a very hard worker and monthly puts money in his debt fund. HOWEVER, he often gives money away to people in need and goes on mission trips using the money from his debt fund.  I disagree with these choices because I don’t believe God calls us to give what we don’t have or live in slavery to lenders at the excuse of doing ministry.  BUT, I have a very hard time standing for my point of few because if feels like he is being godly and I am not…   I am wrong? Is he right?   How can I go about this in an honoring way for God, for him and also for a possible future family?   Help me understand!  Bob’s Response: First the good news!  It appears that you are talking about money issues BEFORE you decide to get married.  Now the hard news!  You need to talk more about money before you decide to get married.  For example, what caused the $80k in debt?  If it was credit cards or the like then watch out.  However, it could have been for medical reasons, perhaps student loans, car loans…  Another question: does he/do you tithe?  Now, I agree that God asks you to give based on what you have an not on what you don’t have or have to borrow.  I also agree that debt should be eliminated as quickly as possible.  So, if he takes money from his debt repayment fund to give away or go on mission trips does he still repay his creditors as agreed?  if so, that’s great.  If not–watch out.  The bottom line is this.  You need to prayerfully have more “money” conversations.  However, more than that, you need to make sure you get some great pre-engagement spiritual and financial counseling/coaching.  Remember, money is never a problem.  Money is always a symptom of a spiritual problem.  The good news is that with every spiritual problem there is always, ALWAYS a spiritual solution.  So, I suggest to stay away from who is “right” or “wrong” and seek some help to prayerfully come together on these issues.  If you are wise you will share your wisdom with him.  If he is wise he will listen.  If you both are wise, you’ll come together on how to handle these money situations.  If you do, then coming together to handle other money and non-money situations will be a whole lot easier.  I also suggest both of you immediately sign up for Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” (www.daveramsey.com).

Question:“Bob, my wife and I own several investment properties as well as several homes.  I’ve been told that because all our properties are jointly owned, we don’t need a will–that if one of us dies the properties will automatically go to the other.  Your thoughts?”  Bob’s Response: Yes, it’s true that if you and your wife hold all your property in “joint ownership” then when one of you dies, the properties will be owned by the survivor.  HOWEVER, without good estate planning the “survivor” may end up paying a lot of unnecessary taxes.  I’m not a lawyer and can’t give legal advice; but wisdom says that having a will is just a part of proper estate planning.  For example, if you both are killed at the same time, then both of you will have died “intestate”–that is without a will.  In this case all the property you jointly own would be settled by the state, probably not to your liking.  I strongly encourage each of you get a will, and a financial power of attorney, and a living will…it’s just good stewardship!  If all your properties are in one state and if neither of you have been previously married and have no children outside your current marriage, then you can consider some of the on-line estate planning resources.  Otherwise, you need to talk with a lawyer. 

Question:“My husband and I are setting up a budget to get rid of all our debt.  Part of that budget includes a new repayment schedule we have worked out with our credit card companies–it’s a reduced repayment schedule, less than what we agreed to pay at the start.  Here’s my question: Is it biblical to save while we still owe money and make payments that are less than originally agreed?” Bob’s Response: The Bible encourages you to save.  The Bible tells you that you MUST repay your debts.  Your question is can you do both at the same time.  YES, so long as your new repayment schedule is approved by your creditors!  Part of your budget should include a specific savings amount each each pay period.  Your savings account eventually will help you do several things to include fixing or replacing household items that break or wear out (cars, washer, dryer, refrigerator, etc.) without having to borrow more money.  But here’s the key to your question, and it has to do with your attitude.  If you are absolutely committed to spend less than you make (the difference being savings) then I believe you are headed down the right road.  If you are not absolutely committed to spend less than you make then over time you will slide deeper and deeper into debt.  Make sure your “commitment” is to God and to each other remembering that financial difficulties are always symptoms of spiritual problems.