Archives For December 2009

Not for Itching Ears

Corey —  December 31, 2009 — 2 Comments

       If you want to hear how the Bible can make you a millionaire, you’re in the wrong place. If you want to hear that you can give 10% and you’ve done your duty to God, you’re in the wrong place. If you want to hear how easy life is going to be as a Christian, you should go do another Google search because you’re not going to find that here.

       Provident Planning is not a place for people with itching ears.

       But if you want to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you’ve come to the right place. If you want to know what the Bible – not man – teaches about money, you’ve come to the right place. If you desire to be a lover of God rather than a lover of money, then I invite you to join me as I seek God’s Truth for personal finances.

       3 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside to fables.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (WEB)

       A lot of the most popular teaching about personal finance for Christians emphasizes how Biblical financial principles can make you rich. This naturally appeals to many people because the love of money is so prevalent in our society. Those who teach how the Bible can make you rich while putting little emphasis on God’s true purpose for those riches are doing nothing but scratching the itching ears.

       God’s Word is not a guide on how to get rich and enjoy all the fine things of the World. God doesn’t want rich Christians to splurge on luxuries while their brothers and sisters die from hunger and thirst. The Gospel is not about how you can prosper in this life. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so you can retire early.

       Jesus warned us of the dangers of greed. He taught us to give generously to anyone in need. He taught us to seek God’s Kingdom first – to make it our top priority in life. All of God’s Word testifies to the fact that our best life will be an eternal life in Heaven – not here on Earth. He has warned us that this life will be full of trials, tribulations, hard times, and difficulties. But He has promised us the most wonderful blessing – eternal life with Him for anyone who believes in His Son, Jesus Christ.

       3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine, and doesn’t consent to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, 4 he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, insulting, evil suspicions, 5 constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Withdraw yourself from such.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 (WEB)

       Many false teachers talk about how God will bless you if you’re a Christian. Or they tell you to send them a love gift or plant a seed and God will pour out miraculous financial blessings for you. These people do not teach the whole Word of God! We are to have nothing to do with those who twist the Scriptures for their own financial gain or teach a gospel different from the one Jesus taught.

       As Christians, we are rich – but you can’t measure our wealth in dollars. We have eternal life with God as our promised reward for faith in Jesus. That reward outweighs anything you can imagine for yourself in this life – and that reward is why contentment and giving should be our primary concerns when it comes to money. Reflect on these words from the Bible:

       6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out. 8 But having food and clothing, we will be content with that.

       9 But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

       11 But you, man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you confessed the good confession in the sight of many witnesses. 13 I command you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate testified the good confession, 14 that you keep the commandment without spot, blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 15 which in its own times he will show, who is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and eternal power. Amen.

       17 Charge those who are rich in this present world that they not be haughty, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on the living God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy; 18 that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life.

1 Timothy 6:6-19 (WEB)

       So if you want to learn what God says about money and what the Bible teaches about personal finance, then please sign up for free updates to Provident Planning. And if you ever find me teaching anything contrary to the Scripture or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, please contact me and let me know.

       But if you just want someone to tell you the things you want to hear, you’ll have to go somewhere else to get your ears scratched.

       If you haven’t found it already, I’ve recently created a page listing all the free stuff you can find here at Provident Planning. Check it out to make sure you haven’t missed out on some great free stuff!

       Although I generally love everything about Vanguard, I wish they had an easy way to rebalance your portfolio. Since they don’t, I’ve created this free portfolio rebalancing calculator to make it a bit easier.

       All you have to do is enter your total portfolio value, the current amount of each investment, and your target allocation for each investment. Entering investment names and symbols is optional. I’ve pre-entered the investment names and symbols for the Vanguard funds you’ll find in my free portfolio allocation calculator, but you can use this calculator for any portfolio with up to 20 investments. If you need to figure out how many shares to buy or sell, simply divide the result by the current price per share. (This isn’t necessary when using Vanguard’s website. They let you buy in dollar amounts.)

       The calculator will tell you how much to buy or sell of each investment to reach your target asset allocation. If you’re adding cash to the portfolio, simply add the amount you’re going to deposit to your “Total Portfolio Value”. If you’re planning to withdraw cash from the portfolio, simply subtract that amount from your “Total Portfolio Value”. Then enter everything else like normal.

       Any odd cents will be added to or subtracted from the last investment listed on the spreadsheet. You’re responsible for double-checking the calculator’s results. I can’t fix user error, and I can’t guarantee that this calculator is error-free (though I’m fairly sure it works fine). If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to help you. You’ll want to expand it to full screen view or save it as an Excel file to see everything at once.

*Note: Click the ‘Click to Edit’ button to use the calculator with your own numbers.

Christian Personal Finance Blogs

Corey —  December 28, 2009 — 2 Comments

       If you’re interested in reading other personal finance blogs by Christians, I’ve compiled a list of all the ones I could find. If you’re a Christian personal finance blogger and you don’t see your website on this list, please leave a comment below and I’ll add you. If you know of a Christian personal finance blog I haven’t included, please do the same. Thanks!

Personal Finance Blogs Written by Christians:

Christian Personal Finance Blogs That Haven’t Posted in a While:

Merry Christmas!

Corey —  December 23, 2009 — Leave a comment

Merry Christmas ! by babasteve on Flickr

       With Christmas coming in just a few days, I won’t be posting for the rest of the week. Be sure to come back on Monday for more free content. Have a merry Christmas, and enjoy the time with your family and friends. May God bless you as you worship Him and remember the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ!

Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 4

Corey —  December 21, 2009 — 5 Comments

       Last month, I posted an update about how my wife and I are raising a cow for beef. This is a summary of our activity and costs for month 4. First, let’s check Bambi’s growth. Here he is at three months old:

Paul & Bambi - 3 Months Old

       And here he is today at 4 months old:

Bambi - 4 Months Old
       It’s difficult to tell from that picture, but Bambi is filling out nicely and gaining weight steadily. He’s getting big enough that it’s difficult to handle him when I try to take him from the barn to the grass.

Costs & Time

       There hasn’t been any change in the amount of time it takes to care for Bambi. It takes me about 5 minutes to feed him every day, and about forty-five minutes to an hour to clean out his stall. The only other time I spend on him is making the trip to buy his feed, but that’s only about 15-20 minutes once a month.

       We spent about $30 less than last month because we didn’t need to buy any more hay or straw. Here’s what we spent this month:

  • Calf Feed – $40.31
  •        

  • Time – 6 hours

       And here are our total costs over the past four months:

  • Cost of Bambi – Free!
  •        

  • Castration & Dehorning – $16.00
  •        

  • Milk Replacer – $45.54
  •        

  • Miscellaneous – $39.90
  •        

  • Calf Feed – $82.50
  •        

  • Hay – $31.00
  •        

  • Straw – $9.00
  •        

  • Total Spent – $223.94
  •        

  • Time – 42 hours

       So after four months we’ve spent a total of $223.94 and 42 hours raising a cow for beef. I doubt the total cost will increase by much over the next month, and I expect the total time to stay the same.

       That’s it for this month. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. And make sure you sign up for free updates to Provident Planning if you’re interested in knowing what it takes to raise a cow for beef!

       You may have noticed that most of the Bible verses I quote on this website are from the World English Bible (WEB) version. Not too many people are aware of this Bible version, so I thought I should take a couple minutes to let you know why I use it.

What Is the World English Bible?

       The World English Bible is an update of the American Standard Version of 1901, which is in the public domain. It has been edited to conform to the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The World English Bible is also in the public domain, which sets it apart from other revisions of the American Standard Version (like the New American Standard Bible, the Revised Standard Version, and the Amplified Bible) which are under copyright.

Why Does Copyright Matter?

       All modern translations of the Bible are currently under copyright, which means that I cannot post verses from those translations which violate the fair use requirements. Because this website has advertisements, I can’t use any of the modern translations without paying licensing fees.

       I’d run into the same problem if I ever want to publish any books with Bible verses in them. The copyright restrictions would require me to pay licensing fees plus royalties to the translation publishers (like Zondervan). Those fees are quite high and would make it very expensive for me to publish anything.

       The solution is to use a Bible translation that’s in the public domain, meaning there are no copyright restrictions. Generally, only older, out-dated translations are in the public domain – like the King James Version or the American Standard Version. The archaic language of these versions makes it difficult for modern readers to understand the Bible.

       Thanks to the people working on the World English Bible, I can quote all the Bible verses I want from that version without any fear of violating copyright rules. The World English Bible is a modern translation that can be freely copied without written permission from a publisher or payment of royalties.

Is the World English Bible a Good Translation?

       Since it’s relatively unknown, you may wonder if the World English Bible is a good translation. If you’ve read many of the Bible verses I’ve quoted, you’ll realize that they’re quite similar to any other translation you’ll read – especially those based on the American Standard Version (ASV). If you usually read the New American Standard Bible (NASB) or the Amplified Bible, you’ll find that the World English Bible is a very close translation since they’re all based on the ASV.

       The American Standard Version is considered to be a literal translation, and the World English Bible follows suit. It’s not going to read like The Message or the New Living Translation, but you can rely on it for a literal interpretation of the original Bible languages.

       One thing you might find strange is the fact that the World English Bible always translates the proper name of God as “Yahweh”. The KJV generally translates this as “LORD” or “GOD” in either all caps or small caps and the ASV uses “Jehovah”. Scholars generally agree that the tetragrammaton should be rendered “Yahweh” instead of “Jehovah”. Seeing “Yahweh” all the time just takes a little getting used to but it does not change the meaning of the Scriptures.

       If you don’t like the WEB version, you can always click the link under any Scriptures I quote. That link will take you to another website, where you can see those verses quoted in the NIV, KJV, Amplified Bible, NLT, The Message, and the NASB versions. That should just about cover everyone’s preferences.

How Can I Learn More?

       If you have other questions about the World English Bible, you’re best off checking out their website and frequently asked questions section. You should be able to find most of you questions there, and if not, you can e-mail those working on the project.