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This question came from a reader the other day. He said:

“I just watched your recent investing videos. What are your thoughts about investing while in debt? We’ve been going crazy paying off our debt, which has been great, but then I see other things that make me wonder if I’m missing out on some investing.”

There’s no black and white answer here, but I want to look at four different considerations for people in debt who are thinking about investing.

1. What interest rate are you currently paying?

For most of us, the best investment that we can make is to pay down debts with high interest rates.

For example, if you are paying 20% on your credit card, any money you contribute toward paying down that debt gets you a guaranteed, risk-free, 20% return on your money.

If you consider investing while in that kind of debt, ask yourself: Can I beat a guaranteed 20% return? If you ever find any way to invest your money and earn a guaranteed 20%, it’s most likely a scam. But if it’s not a scam, you have to tell me. I would definitely want to know about that!

The reality is that most investors are tickled pink if they can just get a 10% or 12% return on their money. That sort of return, if you can find it at all, comes with a decent amount of risk.

Remember, paying off debt is a guaranteed return on investment.

2. How long do you want to be a servant?

Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower is servant to the lender.” Some translations say, “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave!” This felt very, very true to me when my wife and I first got married.

We were $46,000 in debt. I felt like I was in bondage. I felt like the creditors—Chase, Mastercard, and the bank who had our car note—controlled me. Owned me. Being able to pay off that debt felt so, so liberating.

We’ve been able to make some money investing, and it’s been a whole lot of fun. But the relief that has come from paying off our debt far superseded any of the joys of investing.

3. Are you ready to learn?

When you’re ready to invest, begin by investing in your education. When I first started learning about investing, I created some mock portfolios. I pretended to make certain investments and watched to see how my portfolio would have performed. It was fun.

But the reality is this: everything I’ve really learned about investing has been when I had skin in the game. When you actually put some money in, you really pay attention. If you are waiting to pay off a lot of debt before you start investing, ask yourself this: What will it cost me to delay my education?

The lessons you learn from these investments — even (and especially) the ones where you lose money —are going to be lessons you’ll have for the rest of your life. They’re ultimately going to help you in every investment decision you make.

Though this may not be a good reason for someone in debt to start investing today, it’s something to consider. And remember, you don’t have to invest all your money to learn some of those lessons. We’ve created some videos that show you how to get started investing with very little money.

4. Are you more like the tortoise? Or the hare?

Do you remember the old children’s story about the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise and the hare were in a race. The hare was impatient, but the tortoise took his time. The tortoise won, because “slow and steady wins the race.”

Which are you? Are you impatient and easily distracted? Do you find yourself constantly jumping from one thing to the next? Then buckle down and focus on eliminating your debt. Give it everything you have and knock it out before you get distracted by the next “big thing.”

Is your investment style slow and steady like the tortoise? If you can stick with a wise investment strategy for an extended period, then you may be able to get some of the benefits of learning to invest while still making progress on your debt.

Investing while in debt: What’s your strategy?

Don’t forget, paying down your debt is a guaranteed return on investment. If you decide to start investing while you’re in debt, make sure your return will be higher and better than the interest rates you’re currently paying on your debt.

What else should a person consider when investing while in debt? Leave a comment below and let me know what I missed!

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I’ll be honest. I get contacted multiple times a day from various companies wanting to advertise on SeedTime or wanting us to promote “their thing”.

And 99.9% of them get the delete button. Not all of them are bad (though many are), but I only work with advertisers that have products that I am actually interested in myself.

So when Prudential reached out wanting to advertise their new savings goal calculator with me I was skeptical, but I figured I would at least look into it – after all, they are Prudential – I think they were around before my grandparents were born.

And in looking in to the new tool they created, I was actually kind of impressed – so I agreed.

All that to say that this is an article that they sponsored, but as with every review I write, I maintain 100% control of what I say about the product – whether good or bad.

So what is this new savings goal calc they created?

They call it LINK by Prudential and they describe it like this:

“LINK by Prudential is a personalized experience that learns about what’s important to you and connects you with solutions and financial professionals to help you achieve your goals. No matter what changes come your way. LINK is flexible, giving you guidance throughout your financial journey.”

So the gist of it is that it is a savings calculator/estimator that creates personalized info for you about whether you will reach your savings/retirement goals as well as what you need to do now to get there.

That in and of itself isn’t that unique, but the fact that it continually adjusts for you as you move forward is pretty interesting.

Getting started

First thing is to start answering some basic information like:

  • Name
  • Marital status
  • Number of dependents and ages
  • Place of residence
  • Age
  • Current income
  • Your monthly expense total
  • Current college savings for your kids

From there is creates a few financial goals that it thinks you might be interested in like:

And then it also assesses your risk tolerance.

It goes on to ask you more questions about each particular goal. In my case, I used some sample data and it asked me these questions about my desires for “retirement”.

And next it asks for specific detail about where you are currently in terms of reaching your goals:

And after providing that info, it is now ready to provide your savings goal calculations of what you need and whether or not you are on track to reach those goals.

As with most of retirement savings estimators, I find the recommendations for retirement savings amounts to be a little insane. But that is more of a philosophical difference that we can agree to disagree on.

At this point you can continue refining to make adjustments to help you get on track to reach your savings goals.

It is a free savings calculator, but at this point, you begin to see how they make money from it. They make it really easy to work with one of their financial advisors or get started with Prudential services.

Some people might be annoyed by this, but personally, I love this business model. Personal Capital was the first company I saw do this: creating an amazing free tool that is better than paid options out there and use that to generate leads.

To me, it is a win-win. A great free tool for users who just want a free tool, and a ton of access to leads who might be interested in the companies services.

Final thoughts

All in all, I think LINK by Prudential has a leg up on all the competition for free savings goal calculators. Those who stick with it over time are the ones who are most likely to really see it shine as it continues to update and adapt to your situation over time.

If you are interested in checking it out, you can try it out here.

If you give it a go, I’d love to hear your thoughts/opinions on it so let me know in the comments below.

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I wrote this article article a few years ago, but it has been updated for 2019.

This February I took off for what we called a bit of a sabbatical rather than a vacation. But either way, it was great.

We rented a condo on the beach and it was SO much cheaper than the hotel-hopping vacations that we took (before we figured out how to travel for free).

So if you have a few minutes I will explain what we did and probably what we will be doing when we are going on longer trips.

How to rent a house for vacation

In December we were discussing whether or not we would be able to get away this year as we didn’t have too much saved up for a trip. I decided to hop on my favorite vacation home rental site Homeaway.com and see what was out there.  Since we needed to do it in February we wanted to be in Florida since it would be fairly warm there.

After searching for about 30 minutes I had found a handful of places that had good reviews, were on the beach, were open in February, and had pictures that looked pretty promising.

They now had to pass the wife-test.   As a naive guy, I am finally starting to learn how important it is for a woman to be comfortable in her dwelling (even temporary dwellings).  Thankfully, we were able to land on a few that we felt good about going with.

Why rent a house or condo instead of hotels?

I had a few reasons that I wanted a vacation home (or condo) rather than using a hotel.

  1. Feel more “at home” with a condo. Living out of a suitcase for 3-4 weeks in a hotel was not what we wanted.
  2. Better food. I like to cook and having a kitchen to eat meals in not only saved us a ton of money, but it was much healthier and more enjoyable than eating out 2-3x a day.
  3. Hotels are so much more expensive. As you will read in a moment, we paid about (in my estimation) 75% less for our condo what we would have paid on a comparable hotel in the same location.
Next steps

Now that we had found a few condos that we were interested in renting, I gave them a call. Sometimes you end up talking with property managers, but a lot of times you will be talking directly to the owners themselves. That was the case for us with the condo we ended up with.

I asked the owner a few additional questions that I had about the place and then we negotiated price a bit – which worked out awesome for us.

He normally rented his place out for $1500/month and about $600/week.  But because I was flexible on my arrival and departure dates he gave us 22 days for a total of $700!

I am well aware that we got an awesome deal and things just worked out well in our favor, but honestly we would have been happy to pay $1500/month.

And the truth is that when you are dealing with a human being (rather than a hotel chain) and can help them out (by being flexible on dates) they are much more likely to do you a favor in return.

After we agreed on a price (he offered the $700 and I had no need to give a counteroffer) he emailed me the contract which I signed and sent back to him along with a deposit.

The day before we left he emailed me with all access codes and all the other pertinent information we would need for our stay.

Arriving at the condo

We read reviews, asked questions, and thoroughly examined pictures of the condo, but even with all that we didn’t know exactly what we were in for.  To our pleasant surprise the place was not only bigger than than pictures made it look but also nicer!

Within a day or two, I felt like we had made the condo “ours” and we began to really feel at home with the place. For me, this was exactly what I wanted. I wanted a place to just relax – I didn’t want a non-stop typical touristy vacation, but I just wanted to chill out.  This was just what the doctor ordered.

Questions about the Homeaway process

Since we had never used Homeaway, we had a few questions about the process. These were two big questions I had on my mind.  Any other questions you may have can probably be answered on the Homeaway website.

What if the owner runs off with my money?

Homeaway recommends using their payment service called ReservationManager that guarantees 100% of your payment up to $10,000. This was what we did.

What if the place is not as described in the listing?

They offer a basic guarantee that provides up to $1000 in protection if it isn’t as listed. They offer a package that you can pay for that guarantees it up to $10,000 and covers double-bookings, foreclosure, wrongfully withheld security deposits, and more.

Why Homeaway over Airbnb or Craigslist?

Homeaway (aka VRBO) and Airbnb seem to be the largest places to go for a vacation home rental. I have used both many times, and I consistently find that Homeaway’s prices are a bit better.

It could just be a coincidence, but after looking in multiple cities for many trips I consistently find it to be the case.

On the other hand, I like the Airbnb user experience and app slightly more than Airbnb, but for me it doesn’t justify the cost.

And I did rent one time from Craigslist and while it worked out, I probably will never do it again. There are just too few protections that you have with Craigslist that are built in with Homeaway and Airbnb.

A few lessons learned:
  • Off-season rates are a lot better. In our case, renting in the northern half of Florida seems to be off-season in February and is considerably cheaper than the southern half.
  • For a lot of rentals you can use Google Maps to get a street view of the property and see the surrounding area as well – which I highly recommend doing. It will give you accurate information of what the area really looks like.
  • The earlier you begin your search the better. The best places get booked up quickly, so you will find better options if you book early.
Have you ever rented a Vacation home? How was your experience?
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I recently chatted with Art Rainer and we talked about how we can teach our children about money. It was a great conversation with some simple takeaways that I hope you enjoy! You can watch the video or read the transcription below!

Bob Lotich: Hey everybody, I have Art Rainer here today and I’m really excited because he has written a really cool book called The Money Challenge, which I picked up and I’ll tell you more about that in a bit, but we’re going to talk about some money lessons that you should be teaching your kids. Art wrote a blog post about this that I thought was really good so I thought we could have a little discussion about it but we’ll get into that in just a second. But Art, thank you for taking some time to hang out today, brother.

Art Rainer: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Money is the result of work

Bob Lotich: Yeah, it’s my pleasure. And so Art wrote this book, called The Money Challenge and I really like it because I don’t know if you can tell, but it’s pretty short. It’s not a real big book so you can get through it really easy and it’s really practical but also like a lot of spiritual depth to it. Just a really good book. So I definitely recommend checking that out. And like I said, we’re going to talk about money lessons you should be teaching your kids. And I have a five-year-old now and we’re just kind of getting started on this. And I have an almost two-year-old, we haven’t really touched on much yet with her, but our five-year-old, we’ve been teaching him some things and anyway, I just wanted to talk a little bit about some of the stuff with you, Art. So, my first question here or idea that you mentioned in this blog post is that money is the result of work. And this is a foreign concept to a lot of people these days. So tell me a little bit, elaborate on this a little bit for me.

Art Rainer: Well, I have three kids of my own. Ages eight, five and two so this one comes out of my own life experiences that money is the result of work because my two oldest boys seem, at times, to think that money just grows on trees and that whatever they want they can get by just asking. And that it’s okay to waste food. It’s okay to break their toys, that there’s really no consequences. That it’s just nota big deal because you can always just get something else. That you can always just get another toy, you can always get more food. And so it was birthed out of that idea. My wife and I are constantly telling our boys, hey, you know, we actually have to work for food. You have to work for these things, that they just don’t just appear out of nowhere. And if that is not taught as a child grows, then they may assume that well, you don’t really have to work very hard to actually earn a living, which can be detrimental, going into college with that particular mindset. It can result in laziness and entitlement.

Bob Lotich: Yeah, I mean, like so much of our society, you can tell, you can see adults who never learned those lessons as a kid, and it’s like once you get into adulthood, I think at some point it’s going to click that you do have to actually do some work. But, I think the point, the dependence on credit cards and the dependence on a lot of these things that we’ve created as Americans to satisfy our every need and desire whenever we want. Yeah, I just think these are really good and important lessons that we should be teaching our kids. So that’s definitely one that we’ve started working with our son on and you know, and just trying to start incenting him. And at this point, cause he’s only five, he doesn’t really understand the concept of money. In terms of the value that I put on it, he still sees it as a coin and as paper, you know what I mean? But, we’ve done something with a jar that he fills up with legos and then when he fills it up with legos, he gets to go get a toy. So that’s kind of his form of currency right now. And that’s worked really well to just begin teaching him this idea of, you know, you do a chore, you can put a Lego in the jar and then that’s going to get closer to actually buying something. Are there any practical things along those lines that you guys have done that have been helpful?

Art Rainer: Well, talking about it on a pretty regular basis is one, and identifying those times when you can’t talk about it has been important to us. As you would probably expect, we don’t shy away from the money conversation in our house. It’s something that we talk about on a pretty regular basis. We do chores. We have chores every weekend for our kids. And right now they’re trying to save up for, I believe it’s some type of Xbox that they want. And we don’t do a lot of video games in our house, but they really want an Xbox. And so we said, okay, well if you want this, then you’re going to have to work for it. This is not going to just show up. So they have their goal, they know how much money they can make each week. And so they are working toward that end. But yeah, for students especially as they get older and as they get into college, just to understand that in order to get money, it takes work. Like, it’s not about swiping a credit card, it’s not about logging into a video that promises to make you $1 million overnight. That there’s real work involved. And so, to respect that concept.

Money is finite

Bob Lotich: Yeah. And in this blog post, the number two point you made was that money is finite. And this is another one, that man, I’ve seen some adults, I’m sure you’ve heard from some to who have not learned this lesson yet. Tell me your thoughts on this.

Art Rainer: Well, you were in the banking industry. I was actually in the banking industry as well. So I’ve seen many adults that have not learned this particular lesson that once the money runs out of your account, you don’t have any more. And it obviously leads to debt, to overdraft charges, all these bad things that come along with spending more than you actually have. Now if you assume that or if you teach somebody that money is finite, that it’s limited, the good thing about that is that it forces them to create this thing, and it’s a bad word, but we’ll talk about it. It’s called a budget. It forces them to think through how to manage their finances well. For kids that are teenagers and college students, just the concept that, hey, you know what? It’s not an unlimited resource, that there’s gonna come a time when you will run out of money. If you make money, you will eventually run out of it if you don’t keep track of your spending.

Bob Lotich: I think the biggest thing for me with all this is the challenge for us in the 21st century, I think, in this regards to all this, is with credit cards. Because they are tools that are a part of our society, whether we like it or not, it is a tool that is almost used by everybody in America and many other first world countries. And it’s just one of those things where, we can deny and fight against this idea that money is finite for a long, long time if we play our credit card game well, you know what I mean? And I think we’ve all seen people like that and I think the worst thing is, you know, college and maybe in the 20s, like where you can go a long, long time just getting everything you want and buying everything you can imagine and just keep pushing it off further and further down the line, kicking that can down the road further and further. But at some point, it’s going to catch up. Like, you can’t do that till you die. I mean, assuming you have a full life, it’s going to catch up to you. So anyway, in terms of teaching our kids this, this has been one where I haven’t had a super great opportunity to teach Alden about this yet, but I’m working on it. He’s got a piggy bank and so we’re working on filling this piggy bank up and we’ll take some of the money in his piggy bank and we’ll go to the store and buy a toy or something like that. And this is how I’m starting to teach them about money a little bit but it is really difficult because in terms of teaching this to a five-year-old anyway because he knows that I’m still going to whatever, buy him a birthday present or buy him a Christmas present or something like that. And he hasn’t just made that separate connection yet with all this. So how have you handled this with your kids? Any ideas, suggestions?

Art Rainer: By saying no. It sounds really, really simple, but we will say and take advantage of the opportunity to say, no. And we don’t leave it just hanging as a just “no”, you just need to deal with it. But we explain and say, no, we can’t afford that right now. It shouldn’t be a shameful thing when you say something like that. I know that often it seems like it’s a bad thing to say. There’s shame attached to it that we can’t afford. No, that’s a great thing to say to your kid that hey, we can’t afford that right now. BEcause it teaches them something, that there’s a reason behind the no, and there’s this idea that there’s going to be times when you can afford things and when you cannot afford to purchase certain items. And so we tried to take advantage of when we can say no, we do that as an opportunity.

Bob Lotich: Yeah. That’s really good. I really liked that a lot because yeah, it is teaching them the same lesson. The same thing that we as adults need to know, that we’re out of money. You know, it is a no, it just comes from someone else, it doesn’t come from our parents at this point. So that’s good.

Debt is not beneficial

Bob Lotich: All right. So kind of leading into the next one is that debt and this idea that is not something that’s beneficial as a whole. And that, especially the Bible, you know, in our case, we both are believers, we both understand that the Bible has some things to say about this. And so tell me a little bit about how you’re handling debt with your kids, kind of communicating some stuff to them about it.

Art Rainer: Yeah, so I can’t say that I’ve actually talked to my kids that much about debt. I’ve talked to a number of high schoolers, college students, and young adults and beyond about debt. And where I always point them is really where the Bible starts with money and that’s with generosity. So I point them to the priority that we have as believers, according to the Bible, with our money, is that we’re supposed to be generous with it. We’re supposed to give, it’s the first thing that we do. And I say, this is ultimately God’s design for your money, it’s supposed to be used to advance his kingdom. Now you get to enjoy it, but you also are using it to advance his kingdom. And if that’s your priority, then things like debt can then become a hindrance to that priority, to living out and to using your money for what God has designed you to do and with what your money was supposed to be for.

And so I point them to the ultimate why, why we did it. Because often I think we sometimes get the why wrong. Like we often treat being financially healthy as the why: why we need to get out of debt, why we need to avoid it, why you need to save money for retirement, savings account, emergency funds. But when really those are just means to a much greater end. And that’s where we can live with our hands wide open saying, God, whatever you want me to do with it, I can do with it whenever you want. Wherever you want me to go, I can go because we’ve been good stewards of those resources. And so I talk about debt as a hindrance to being able to live out God’s design for money and for themselves because we’re designed to be generous. We enjoy being generous. With college students, in particular, it’s explaining to them that the college debt that you’re taking on, those papers that you’re signing, that you might not fully understand what you’re signing, there are going to have significant ramifications down the road. I know it’s weird to think about that, that signature on that paper, that money that you’re taking is going to prevent you from purchasing a home when you want to. It’s been known to delay marriages, been known to delay having children. It’s going to be a mega issue in your life. So before you sign that paper, understand that you are taking on a burden. The Bible calls it a burden. And the Bible also says that even though it’s a burden, you’re going to have to pay it back. So it’s not that you’re going to be able to get out of it. It’s a burden that’s going to be on you until you to pay it off and it’s going to have significant ramifications on your life, it’s going to hinder your dreams that you have right now.

Bob Lotich: I think the thing for me when I was in college, I took on a decent amount of student loans. I think I had probably $45,000 total. And as a college student, I had no idea. I feel like when you’re going into college, you’re just thinking, I’m going to get a good job as soon as I get out and I’m going to pay things off in a couple of years and it’s no big deal and whatever.

Art Rainer: And most students think the same way. It’s not like they are going in there thinking “I just wanna take on a bunch of debt” That’s not what they are thinking. They are unaware of the long-term ramifications for that signature and taking on that money.

Bob Lotich: I think more now than you know, when you and I were going into college, the promise of having a fantastic job after getting your college degree. I mean, obviously, depending on what field of study you’re in, it’s just a very different thing. And I didn’t get a good job after college. I mean, I actually, was kind of stuck in a dead end job and was having a hard time getting out. I think there’s just a lot of people finding that same thing and I would just hate to be somebody going to school, spending $100,000 on college right now, just thinking they’re going to walk out, get a great job, and everything’s going to take care of itself, you know, really quickly.

Art Rainer: More often than not, it doesn’t just take care of itself. I hope that everybody gets a great job out of college. I hope that happens for them. The reality is that most are not going to have that experience. That’s not most people’s experience. Even when we went to college, my first job out of college was not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination and did not pay much at all. Which was typical. That’s the typical route most people, most people take.

Instant gratification leads to delayed financial health

Bob Lotich: So next on the list is this idea that instant gratification leads to delayed financial health. And no doubt we live in an instant gratification society. I think we all know that. I remember hearing Jeff Bezos talk about this and pretty much the key to their success has been “how do we give people exactly what they want, everything they can imagine, as fast as they possibly want it.” And he’s like, people are always going to want it faster, quicker, and clearly that’s working as their business model. So anyway, tell me how this applies to teaching our kids about money.

Art Rainer: Well, I can go back to the illustration of my kids, saving for the Xbox. Ironically, my kids want the first generation Xbox. I don’t know why they want that one, but that’s what they’re going for. So yeah, it’s cheaper, which is great. But teaching them that it takes time to save up, to earn something. That word earn, that there has to be skin in the game, that there’s time between desire and fulfillment.

I can’t say that every time that we’ve done this, that they’ve followed through and that they have attained their goal. I had a reading plan for my oldest son. I said, if you read so many books, if you do this, then I will take you to a college football game. But you have to do these things first. So he started out strong doing it, but eventually, he stopped doing it. So then, of course, he didn’t end up going to the game, which was a natural consequence for not following through. And so it’s just finding those goals that they at least initially desire and providing them a path to attaining that particular goal. And in making sure you follow through with it as a parent. Encouraging them in that direction and then of course if they actually get there, make sure that you make good on your word. But find those ways to help them work hard towards something that they ultimately desire.

Bob Lotich: Yeah, I mean I think we all know this, but part of this equation too is that we live it out ourselves, you know, because they’re watching and they’re paying a lot closer attention then at least I had any idea. Like things they might get, they are already picking up on. It’s like they know what’s going on and Linda and I look for opportunities to just kind of let them in. We don’t let them in on all the dirty details of our finances. But anytime we get a chance to say, hey, we are saving up for this and we are waiting for this and we’re not going to buy this until we have saved up this much money or whatever it is, just to show them that we’re doing this too. And that this is part of being an adult. This is part of, you know, handling money the right way.

Art Rainer: I can’t understate the importance of just talking about money in general with your kids. And as you said, and with everything that’s going on in your life. We talk about our giving. We give online so our kids aren’t able to see us give in the plastic buckets that you put money in at church. So we make sure that we’re intentional about talking about it, that we give to our local church first. We give to some other nonprofits that we’re passionate about. So yeah, it’s just a normal conversation for our family.

God is the provider of everything

Bob Lotich: That’s good. All right. This is a point I want to talk about it a little bit more. Just the idea that God is the owner and provider of everything. And this is definitely one that a lot of people don’t understand. A lot of adults don’t understand this. And I think if you understand this concept from a young age, I think just saying there’s so much power in it. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

Art Rainer: First, just be careful with telling your kids that God is the owner of everything because it can come back and haunt you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, hey, no, that’s dad’s phone, don’t touch it. Then they’ll say “no, dad, it isn’t your phone, it’s God’s phone! Because we’ve reiterated that everything’s Gods and then he owns it. He owns it all. And so our kids latched on to that and they’ll come back and say, no, no, no, you can’t claim it’s yours. Yes, you’re right, it’s from God but just give me my phone!

It’s amazing that we serve a God that, the parable of the talents is the perfect example of this, when you see the master handing over talents, money, to these servants. And, if you notice in the parable, those talents, it never switches ownership. It never says the servant’s talents. It always says the master’s talents. Even when it’s in their hands, it’s still the master’s talents. Of course, when he returns, they hand back what is rightfully his.

One of the pieces I think that we often miss with that story is that it really actually provides, it demonstrates the why for our money. God gives us these resources and what does he celebrate? When the master returned, he celebrates those that have essentially expanded his kingdom with his resources. So that master had greater earnings or owned more when he returned than when he had left. And that’s what was celebrated. And so it just underscores the importance that God gives us these resources to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17-19, He absolutely gives us everything so that we can enjoy it, but also so that we can advance His kingdom and that’s ultimately what He’s going to kind of celebrate. And so it’s all His, and we have an incredible honor to be able to take it and use it to impact our community, impact our city and impact the world for His sake.

Bob Lotich: I think I just feel like on a practical level, the sooner you can grasp that, the better. My wife was raised in the church and I wasn’t. So she from a young age gave 10% of her income to her church and just always did that. So it was never a challenge. It was never even a step of faith in most cases for her to give 10% because it was just always what she had done. And me, on the other hand, like going from giving zero of my money, on a regular basis to this idea of 10% was like, that’s huge. That’s a lot of money. You know what I mean? I’m not at all stuck on the 10% because again, it’s all God’s money. But I do think that the point is that if we are giving consistently, from a young age, I feel like it is a whole lot easier to transition to adulthood and it’s less of an abrupt kind of a thing that we need to go through.

Art Rainer: It is. But you’ve also hit on the caution there. I think we should absolutely teach generosity with our kids, and that it is the priority for our finances. At the same time, we as adults have to be careful that it just becomes this habitual thing that we do that we don’t even think about because that’s not what the Bible teaches either. The Bible teaches sacrificial giving. And often I hear people say, I’ve tithed all my life. And I know they really haven’t been, I understand what they’re saying, but often it’s a simple box checked, that they’ve done their good deed by giving 10%. And that’s not what the Bible commands us to do at all. That is supposed to be an act of sacrifice. It’s kind of uncomfortable to say that but we see that throughout scripture. So we have to be careful and have to check our own hearts and where we are with our generosity and whether or not this is just a box checked. Or is it a sacrifice that we’re intentionally making.

So teach kids to be generous, to hold their money loosely, hands wide open, ready to give whenever God prompts. At the same time, even we as adults, we don’t want to get into the pattern of just checking boxes because that’s not what God wants either.

Bob Lotich: Yeah, absolutely. And I feel like, as we stay obedient to him. Yeah. I mean, cause this 10% thing is interesting because you are right. I run into so many people who that is just where they have rested their laurels. I feel like that’s a mark post along the journey of giving where, if we’re just really following him and seeking after him and obeying what he’s telling us to do, I have a hunch that most of us are going to be giving beyond that point and he’s going to stretch us and just continue to stretch us. And that’s what he’s done in our lives. And I just see that pattern over and over..

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On a Spring day in 1998, I reluctantly notified our mission chairman that I wouldn’t be able to make the Mexico Mission trip. My reason? I did not have the $500 deposit and didn’t have time to raise the money. However, that same day, my daughter called, “Dad, I know that you really, really want to take this trip, and it just so happens that I have an extra $500. I want you to use it for your deposit.”

Recalling that conversation still makes me misty eyed, not because I was able to take the trip, but because our daughter made such a generous offer. Knowing that Jaime, a struggling cosmetologist, did not have ANY extra money punctuated the bigheartedness of our girl, and being the recipient made me realize that my wife and I had raised a remarkable young woman. Lest I shortchange our other three children, allow me to state that all four of our children, now in their thirties, are generous with their hearts, their time and their money.

I wish I could pinpoint the exact strategy my wife and I used to raise generous children, but I must confess that such a strategy never existed. However, we did a few things right, so I will share three tips, some of which we did pretty well and some of which we could have done better.

1. Walk the walk.

Children learn by watching their parents. Period. Jesus was teaching this principle when he said that students cannot be greater than their teachers (Mat 10:24). Our children learned generosity as they watched my wife taking hot soup to sick neighbors, baking holiday treats to give away at Christmastime and simply giving of herself any time any of us have had needs. Myself? Although I have been doing better in recent years, generosity has never come easy for me. Still, in spite of my self-centered nature, I was acutely aware of the fact that my children were watching how I treated the restaurant server and how I responded to red poppy collections at stop signs. Such awareness, I am sure, prompted my own generosity and (I hope) encouraged our children to do likewise.

2. Involve your children in giving.

Our church, for years, gave homemade Christmas gifts to the inmates at a nearby minimum security prison. Coordinating with a prison minister, we (children included) were allowed to deliver those gifts to the prison and then participate in a Christmas worship service with the inmates. The gifts consisted of homemade Christmas cards and homemade cookies. For weeks before Christmas, our children’s Sunday School classes made hundreds of homemade cards. In the meantime, parents and children made dozens of homemade cookies. Janice devised an assembly line approach for our family: some mixing, some placing on cookie sheets, some timing and removing from oven and some putting the cooled cookies in plastic bags. The highlight of our Christmases during those years was taking our children with us to deliver the gifts and participate in the service.

3. Make giving a requirement.

“Just a minute, Joe. Isn’t ‘required giving’ an oxymoron? After all, if it doesn’t come from the heart, is it really giving?” Good point. But Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” We train our children to study, to work and to treat others as they want to be treated. Should we not also train them to give? Of course! And such training does not mean handing them a quarter as you walk into the church building…that is a lesson of how to be a courier. Because we taught our children to earn their own money (by paying them for certain responsibilities), the offerings they gave to the Lord were true gifts. Did we militantly force them to give every single Sunday? Not at all. In fact, we should have been more diligent about it…something I hope you can do better than we did. Candidly, getting all four of them into the car on Sunday mornings was challenging enough without always remembering their offerings. However, in spite of our inconsistencies, the giving they did as children stayed with them when they became adults.

It is more than money.

I want to close by emphasizing that true giving, while it is a discipline, is much more profound than a simple transfer of goods. When you train your children to be givers, you are molding their hearts; hearts which will develop into generous spirits as they enter adulthood. When our oldest son Josh was a high school senior, he saved his pizza delivery money for months so he could spend it on vacation. But, when we encountered a needy family while en route, he gave it all to them.

Who knows? Maybe your son will do the same. Or maybe your daughter will some day offer to pay your deposit on a short-term mission trip. I hope so.

What other tips do you have for those looking to raise generous children? Tell us a story from your own life, and meet us in the comments!

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It’s no secret that I have been using Medi-Share for my family as our health insurance alternative for years. I have enjoyed it and it has saved us a ton of money over the years.

But in this video I sit down with a friend of mine who has been a long-time Samaritan member and we compare and contrast the differences between the two.

So if you are looking at a Christian health sharing ministry (or know anyone who might be) this will definitely help.

Samaritan Ministries vs. Medi-Share

Bob Lotich: All right, in this video, we’re going to talk about Samaritan Ministries and Medi-Share. I am a Medi-Share member and have been for nine years. Wes, my good friend here, has been with Samaritan for how many years?

Wes Strunk: Six years.

Bob: Six years. We’re going to share our experience with both of them, and compare and contrast.

Bob: Wes is a good friend. I moved to Nashville, and every single person in Nashville is a musician. If you haven’t been here, you should come to visit, because everybody’s a musician.

Wes: That’s very true.

Bob: At church, I ran into Wes, and Wes and his wife are musicians. They are actually on tour right now, so you should go check them out. They just recorded this really cool EP called Into the Unknown. If you like good worship music, you should definitely check it out.

How have you enjoyed it?

Bob: All right, so Wes and I both get asked a whole bunch of questions about our experiences, his with Samaritan, mine with Medi-Share, and we’re just going to go through a list of these questions, and go from there.

Bob: All right, so first off, you said you’d been with Samaritan for six years. I’ve been with Medi-Share for nine years. Tell me, in general, how you have felt, and this is more of an overall feeling of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with Samaritan over that time.

Wes: Yeah. I mean, I would say, on a scale of one to 10, probably a nine or a 10. I mean, it’s been an amazing experience. I’m sure we’ll get into a lot of the different needs that we’ve had, but I mean, their name is Samaritan Ministries. I know Medi-Share maybe has ministry in the name, but it really does feel more like a ministry than anything else. We looked at the financial piece of it as well, on how much the cost was versus traditional healthcare, and insurance, but I think for us, it was more, there was a for-profit dynamic to insurance, where this really, as we pray, we saw this lined up with our convictions for what we see in the scripture, and it has really fulfilled what we thought it would be from the beginning.

Wes: It’s rare that you find something … You know, usually, if it’s too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true, but this really ended up lining up with what we thought it would be, and it’s been incredible, honestly. Every step of the way has been great.

Bob: Yeah. I mean, in our case …I wouldn’t classify them as a ministry. I mean, even though … It’s kind of a gray area to define a little bit, but they function a lot like insurance. It feels, in a lot of ways, just like health insurance, but, I mean, it’s not. They make it really, really clear that it is not health insurance. I do think that might be a little bit of a different thing. Now, that said, there are a lot of aspects of it that I think kind of fall into that category. A lot of times, when you call Medi-Share, at the end of your phone call, they ask to pray with you for any needs you might have. Then, you have opportunities to kind of share with other members and things like that but fundamentally it feels very similar to insurance for me. I do think that seems to be a little bit differentiator.

How have maternity expenses been handled?

Bob: Another thing I want to ask you is, along these lines, you have given birth. Yeah. Two kids, with them, right?W

Wes: Yes, my wife has. She’s incredible, but yeah. We’ve had two kids, as we’ve been with Samaritan for six years. We have a 3 1/2-year-old and a little over 1 1/2 year old.

Bob: How did that go? How were the maternity expenses and all that?

Wes: Yeah, so our first, had to go to the NICU for a couple of nights. What blew my mind was when you have your hospital bills, I think our first baby, total bills were 30-35 grand for just hospital fees. You know, triage, maternity care, having to go to NICU for two nights. When you see that, you’re like, “okay.” That was really our first big need with Samaritan that we had to share, which is the language that they use. I’m sure Medi-Share uses the same thing. Sharing it among the members.

Wes: It’s kind of like, “Okay, we hope this works.” I remember, I went to pay with self pay discount, and I mean, I think they slashed 90% of the price. My understanding from the hospital where we had our son, Cade, was it was a flat rate for a self pay patient. Even if our bills had been more than that, it still would’ve been that almost 90% slash rate. When we submitted our need, it was covered in full, and we didn’t pay anything out of pocket for that, which was pretty incredible. Our first experience was, “Okay, here’s our bills. We had an unexpected NICU visit for some jaundice stuff.” Everything was completely covered. I mean, literally zero dollars out of pocket for having our first kid.

Bob: Awesome. That’s really good. Yeah, so as you know, we have two kids, similar ages, but both of ours we adopted, and so we haven’t gone through the actual maternity expenses yet. My wife’s pregnant, so we’ll be doing that soon. In our case, one of the nice things with the adoption was Medi-Share covered, not the entire cost of the adoption, but contributed to it both times, which was nice.

Wes: Yeah, that’s amazing.

Bob: Because adoptions are not cheap. Anybody who’s ever done it knows, and so that was kind of a nice perk that they had, but I’m really interested to see how Medi-Share handles the whole maternity thing, and yeah. We’ll have to report back on that.

Wes: Yeah, I’m curious.

Where do monthly premiums get sent?

Bob: All right, so talk to me about your monthly premiums. I know the verbiage might be different, but how much are you paying per month to be part of Samaritan.

Wes: Yeah, Samaritan uses the word share, so your monthly share. Ours is $495. That is for a family. I think they just introduced different coverage tiers. Again, it’s not traditional insurance, but they use that terminology. I think for $300 a month you get a certain deductible, basically. I’m using insurance language, but we understand what that means. Then, we do the $495, which is their upper amount. That’s just what we’ve always done. That deductible is basically, anything over $300 you can share among the people. Then, if you receive a discount through being a self pay patient, they, then, if it’s over $300 discount on what you went in to do … So, if it was $1,000 bill, and they say, “Okay, self pay, that’s going to be $500,” then that basically waives your deductible, and so you don’t pay any money at all.

Bob: Really?

Wes: Out of your own pocket, yeah. If there’s $1,000 and then you have to pay $1,000, it would cover $700 of that.

Bob: So there’s incentive for you to negotiate.

Wes: Yes.

Bob: Because that’s pretty much coming directly back to your pocket.

Wes: Yes. They have a partner, a third party, that will actually advocate for you and negotiate for you if you’re not comfortable doing that. I have always done that for Callie and myself. I don’t know if it’s a control thing. I don’t think it is, but I like people, I like talking to people, so I have always negotiated.

Bob: Well, you’re good at it.

Wes: I try to fake it as much as I can, but that’s really helped. We’ve never … Any time we’ve actually shared something, we’ve never had to pay any out of pocket.

Bob: All right, that’s cool. The $300 deductible is per one time, per one event?

Wes: Yeah, anything grouped into an event. Our son had an eczema breakout. He went to the doctor, I think, three or four times, for different treatments, checking on how to best take care of it. I think the total bills added up to maybe $1,000 with different medications, and prescriptions, and stuff. Our discount knocked it down some, and we shared that, and that was covered in full, so no out of pocket expenses.

Bob: So all of that rolls up into one event.

Wes: Exactly, yeah.

Bob: Okay, so Medi-Share is very different, in that regard. They have an annual deductible. You know, in our case, we opted for the highest level deductible, because we pretty much just kind of wanted to self-insure as much as possible. We have a $10,000 annual deductible, and those go as low as, I think, $1,250, I think might be the lowest one. I’m not really sure. Yeah, and all these details, any time you’re watching this video, it’s past when we recorded it, so they might have changed. Definitely check the details out with both of them, but these are our experiences and our best recollection.

Bob: Anyway, you can have a much lower deductible. We’ve chosen to have a much higher one. That’s on an annual basis. Everything before that, we pay out of pocket. In our case, we really submit stuff to Medi-Share, because we don’t cross that deductible very often. Most of what we pay is just out of pocket. If you had a much lower deductible with them, essentially, once you cross that annual deductible, everything beyond that is covered.

Bob: Yeah, they’re functioning very, very different, which it makes it really difficult, I think, to kind of compare, you know? Because they’re very different animals depending on what your family’s needs are, and really, how you kind of … your cashflow of your home, and how you manage cash a little bit, too.

Wes: Yeah. What’s your premium with Medi-Share?

Bob: Our premium, right now, with the discount, which I’ll get to in a second, but basically, we’re paying $189 a month. It’s for a family of four, and I think it’s the same family of four and above. Anyway, definitely cheaper, but we have a really high deductible. So the discount, the thing that I just mentioned, is one of the things Medi-Share has that is kind of nice, is they give you a 20% discount off your premiums if you meet certain health guidelines.

Bob: Once a year, you have to submit, I think, your weight, your BMI, and your waist circumference, maybe blood pressure. Something like that. Pretty simple little things that you can get down really quickly, and if you fall into their healthy criteria, then they’ll knock off 20% of your bill. It’s been a nice perk, because it’s been pretty easy to reduce the bill by 20%.

Wes: I didn’t know that. I don’t know how Medi-Share works, but with Samaritan, there’s a certain number of families, and there’s a pool of money that is then used to cover the needs of the people in the ministry. I’m pretty sure it’s based off Acts 2:42-47, where it’s, okay, they all shared, and everything, all their needs were covered. Nobody had any needs. That kind of mentality. The great thing about that is, they have this large pool of money, I don’t know how many millions it is at this point, but if the needs that have been submitted for a month are met in full, and you don’t use all of that money that’s in the pool, they’ll actually discount or prorate your monthly share, because that money wasn’t needed, because it’s not for-profit.

Wes: We’ve had some months where, again, our regular share is $495 for our family, but it’s been $435, $420, because of how that works. There are a lot more intricacies to this, because you know, what happens when it goes above that amount? Well, if there’s three months where Samaritan Ministries has a … basically, they can’t meet your need in full, they can do 90%, because it’s been over the monthly share amount all pooled together, they’ll actually do a vote on if people want to increase the monthly amount they pay and share, to then cover all these needs in full.

Wes: Again, all this is on their site, and they do a much better job of explaining this than I can, but we’ve gone through two … or, yeah, two votes since we’ve been there on, “Should we raise the monthly amount to cover the needs?” One happened, I think, when Obamacare went into effect, with just healthcare costs getting higher. It’s a majority vote, so the majority of people in Samaritan Ministries said, “Yeah, we want to raise our monthly amount.” They chose to do this, so that I know when I have an issue, it’s going to be covered in full, versus it be covered 80% of the way, if that makes sense.

Bob: Yeah. No, absolutely.

Wes: That’s kind of how they do it, which I appreciate that I have input, and I’m informed on the situation.

Bob: Yeah, that’s cool. Yeah, there have been a handful of votes with Medi-Share that we’ve been part of, and honestly, none of them have been ones that concerned me enough, or just weren’t things that were really on my radar at all. I think we voted for like one or two of them, but anyway, yeah.

Where do you send your monthly premiums?

Bob: All right, so next thing up, one of the things I want to talk about are the monthly premiums. I think I understand this right, but confirm this for me. With Samaritan, you send your monthly premiums to another member. Is that correct?

Wes: Yes. Yeah, exactly. Except for one month of the year, you send it to the office to cover administrative costs. Every member of Samaritan is helping cover the admin costs once a year, and then the other months are sent directly to a member.

Bob: Okay, so practically speaking, do they email you and give you somebody’s address, and then you just write them a check or something like that?

Wes: Yeah, so you get a newsletter every month in the mail, with actual testimonies in the newsletter, as well as prayer requests, and the need that you’re supposed to be sending your share to. We might get, you know, for you guys, like, “Come on, Bob and Linda had their baby, and you need to send your $400 to Bob and Linda Lotich at this address, and send a note of encouragement.” You are supposed to write a handwritten note saying, “Hey, we’re praying for you.” Our son Cade, he had a heart defect when he was born. He had to have heart surgery at six months.

Bob: Oh, wow. I didn’t know about that.

Wes: Yeah, which was … I mean, talk about astronomical cost. It was a lot. Basically, six figures. Again, that was covered in full. We didn’t pay a dime for that, which was amazing. The crazy part was, I took all of the checks that I received for the need that we had to the bank to deposit them, and the teller was asking me, “Did you just get married?” I was like, “Well, I wish I would receive this when I got married, all these checks.” I said, “No, my son actually had heart surgery, and we’re part of a ministry where people then help take care of your needs.” She started crying. My bank teller, and she wrote down the information, and what this ministry is about.

Wes: It’s just cool to see how God will even move through you depositing some cash for, you know, things that, obviously, our son having heart surgery, it’s an emotional experience, but it was really cool to see how people in Samaritan were praying for us, and we even got people just encouraging us with, “Hey, we’re praying for Cade to be completely healed.” I mean, I think we received 65 checks for that need, and it was all with a note of encouragement, or a prayer, or something different.

Bob: That’s really cool.

Wes: I have them in a little book for Cade when he gets older. It’s been really cool to see that experience for us, and how to handle it with sending it directly to a member.

Bob: All right, so not to, you know, turn too cynical here, but what happens if somebody doesn’t send the check?

Wes: Yeah, that’s fair. We’ve had that happen once, but it was on accident. I just called the office, and they do all of the legwork for you.

Bob: They take care of that.

Wes: They take care of it.

Bob: So you don’t have to hound somebody.

Wes: No, and if someone … Part of the agreement, being a member of Samaritan, if you miss a month within a year, you kind of forfeit your membership. There’s an accountability, like, “You’re agreeing to this.” If there is a mistake made where the person sent the check and it got lost in the mail, they’ll redistribute that share to another family, and then have them, the family that had it lost in the mail, if it wasn’t rectified for what I needed, sent to a different need. There’s accountability there. They handle all of that. I think I made one phone call, and they had already redirected the share that I was missing to me.

Wes: When you get a need, or have a need, it’s about a 60 day turnaround before you get checks in the mail to cover that, if that makes sense. I don’t know how Medi-Share is, but that’s usually … 60-90 days is the turnaround time.

Bob: Yeah, so Medi-Share is very, very different, just in terms of we just send the money directly to … I mean, technically, it’s not to Medishare. It’s to a credit union account that we have, that Medi-Share has a power of attorney over. We deposit it into this account. We mail it to this check. Honestly, I’ve never even seen the account. Like, other than opening it, I haven’t looked at it ever since, because I know it’s not my money. Even though my name’s on the account.

Bob: Anyway, so that money gets sent there, and Medi-Share takes care of everything else. There’s just not really any of that at all. Now, I do know that there is a newsletter that goes out, where they talk about the people’s needs, and I know some people send letters and stuff, but I feel like you’re probably getting a lot more in a case like this.

Who sends the bill to sharing ministry?

Bob: All right. Okay, so this is one thing. In terms of sending the bill to the health plan, so whether that’s Medi-Share or Samaritan, how does Samaritan handle that? You know, so I’m assuming … You said it’s self pay. If you go to the doctor’s office, yeah, they’re not going to bill Samaritan, right?

Wes: No.

Bob: I mean … Okay, because you’re going to self pay and then you’re going to take care of that.

Wes: Exactly, yeah. It’s basically like a refund. You go in there, and that’s why they have an advocacy group for you if you need it, but I go in representing my family, work out an agreement, or they give me a standard self pay discount, which is usually crazy, and then I’ll take that, and basically as a reimbursement, submit that need. Whenever I’ve done it, I’ve said, “Hey, I’m a part of a Christian health share ministry that shares the needs of people in the ministry, so I’ll actually pay this in cash in full, but I need a 90-100 day window.” That’s what I say, even though it’s 60-90 days for Samaritan.

Wes: I’ve never had … I had one hospital give me a little bit of pushback, but I talked to a person high enough in it, where they just want money, and if they’re going to get it, you know, then they’re fine with whatever. If it’s a four month delay, that’s not a big deal to them. That’s how it’s handled. You’re kind of representing yourself, and you can bring them in if you need help.

Bob: Got you. All right, so Medi-Share, that happens occasionally, but generally speaking, if you go with an-network doctor at Medi-Share, those network doctors’ offices typically will send a bill directly to Medi-Share. It’s not always the case. We’ve run into some where they don’t. It’s kind of an education thing, where not all these offices are aware yet, and they don’t really understand Medi-Share or whatever.

Bob: In many cases, they will actually bill Medi-Share for us, so it’s very similar to insurance in that regard, where it’s just kind of out of our hands. We go to a doctor’s office, hand them our card, they bill it. Sometimes, they look at us like, “What’s this?” Then, we’ll explain, and they’re part of the PCHS network. I think that’s what the name is. Any network doctors in there, in theory, they should understand Medi-Share, and that’s not always the case, but a lot of times it can function really similar to insurance, where you hand them your card, they bill them, and you don’t have to do anything.

Bob: If you use an out of network doctor, which we do quite often, a lot of times we do it really similar, where we will be self pay. We’ll say, “We’re just going to do self pay,” and then we’ll take that bill ourselves and submit it to Medi-Share from there. Yeah, definitely some major differences as we’re going through this on how all these things, these two programs differ.

Wes: Yeah, definitely.

Can you keep your doctor?

Bob: All right, so along these lines, you know, one of the questions that I get asked a lot is, “Can you keep the same doctor that you have?” Like I just alluded to, you know,..

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At many times over the years I have found myself in a challenging financial position and found myself praying for finances.

While much of what I write about on this site are practical tips to improve your finances, the truth is that when you need a financial breakthrough, there really is no better move than going to God in prayer with your request.

God’s response to our prayer is better than all the best money-saving strategies in the world.

That said, I do often find that He leads me to practical things as an answer to my prayer. Sometimes we pray for things but aren’t willing to make the changes that God is asking us to. So, be ready to respond with action when He gives you direction!

Should we pray for money?

First off, I don’t at all think that there is anything wrong with praying for money, but God has been revealing something to me that I think I need to share.

The gist of this revelation is that money is just a means to an end and praying specifically for money sometimes (not always) is shortsighted.

For example, in the past I have found myself praying for financial breakthrough so that I could buy a couch, or new appliances, or even to be able to go on a vacation.

And God has surprised me in each case by providing for me WITHOUT actually giving me more money.

You see, the Bible says that “God will provide all our needs according to his riches in glory” (Phil 4:19)

Notice that it doesn’t say anything about money specifically. And all too often we are limiting God by just praying for money when He has so many other amazing ways that He wants to provide for us.

You can watch Linda and I chat further about this idea in the video below…

How we should pray

There are actually a lot of financial scriptures and Bible verses about money, and when we are praying for financial help the best thing we can do is to be praying specific Bible verses.

God said it after all, and by praying His promises we are reminded of the truth of His word which will build our faith in the process.

Prayers for financial breakthrough

The short prayers below are basically rewording of Bible verses in prayer form. I pulled together some of my favorite encouraging financial Bible verses and created a couple prayers from it.

I encourage you to personalize them and make them your own and just use my financial prayers below as a starting place.

Download the FREE printable PDF

Just click here to download the printable PDF containing the sample financial prayers and scriptures to pray.

Sample prayer

God, I thank you that your word says that you will supply all of my need according to your riches in glory. Since you are the same yesterday, today, and forever I can trust that since you have been faithful to a thousand generations you will be faithful to me and will never leave me or forsake me.

God, I know that earthly fathers even know how to give and provide for their children, so as my Abba Father how much more do you love to give good gifts to your children? You are my God who provided for thousands with just a few loaves and fishes in such abundance that everyone ate to their fill and there were even leftovers! And I know that you provide an abundance for every good work and that you never cease to feed the birds, and so of course I am more valuable than they are!

God, your word says that as I seek first your kingdom and your righteousness you will provide everything I need. Thank you Jesus that you came to give me life to the full and that you can do immeasurably more than I can ask, think or imagine according to the power at work in me.

I ask that you give me wisdom to steward the resources you have given me well!  Help me to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want just like Paul did.

God, I know You can do all things, and that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I want to get out of debt, but I need Your help. Lead me by Your wisdom as I begin this journey. Help me change my habits and my mindset. Work through me and others so I can eliminate all of my debt. Lead me to a place where I can be in a position to give more to others.

Don’t put your trust in prayer

That sounds funny, but there is a distinction. You see, it is possible to download these financial prayers and try to use them like a magic formula to get what you want, but God is so much bigger than that.

Our trust should always be in Him first, and prayer is just the means with which we communicate with Him.

Thank God that answers to our prayers aren’t dependent on our ability to say the perfect prayer, but from a heart that trusts God and His promises.

So the bottom line is that by all means use the prayer for finances above to guide you in your prayers, but put your trust in God – not in any specific money prayer – deal?

Financial scriptures to pray

These are the scriptures from the Prayer for finances above. I encourage you to download this list, print it off and continue to pray these scriptures each day.

As you do, your faith will grow. Remember, faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God! So continuing to read, speak, pray, and meditate on financial scriptures will build your faith.

  • And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19 (NIV)
  • I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Psalm 37:25 (NIV)
  • Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deut 7:9 (NIV)
  • Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matt 7:9-11 (NIV)
  • Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matt 6:26-27 (NIV)
  • Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Matt 14:19-20 (NIV)
  • And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. 2 Cor 9:8 (NASB)
  • But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:33 (NIV)
  • You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. Deut 28:6 (NIV)
  • If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land. Is 1:19 (NIV)
  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)
  • I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil 4:12 (NIV)
  • Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us Eph 3:20 (NIV)

Praise Him in the midst of it all

When battling financial challenges it is easy to get so focused on the pressing need that we lose sight of how good our God is.

Trust me, I have been there. But the best thing we can do is to stop focusing on how big our money problems are and focus on how big our God is.

I love what this verse from Habakkuk says:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
1yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV)

And while it definitely isn’t easy at all, I think it pleases God so much when we can be standing in the middle of a battle and keep our eyes fixed on Him.

What do your prayers for finances look like?

I am sure there is much more to add so I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

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The book The Millionaire Next Door analyzes the financial habits of millionaires. It shares the results from interviews and surveys with millionaires.

The goal of the book is to give an accurate idea of what characteristics make a millionaire. I found four of those characteristics especially important.




4 Essential Habits of Millionaires 1. Millionaires practice frugality.

“They live well below their means.”

Here are some stats on millionaire shopping habits:

  • Average paid for a suit = $399
  • Average paid for a pair of shoes = $140
  • Average paid for a watch = $235

While those numbers might seem a little higher than the average middle class shopper, it is certainly a far cry from the $4,500 pair of shoes we think millionaires would wear.

Did you know that for every 100 millionaires who don’t budget there are 120 who do? Perhaps it is time for you to start a budget. It is time to make sure that you spend less than you earn.

2. Millionaires spend time managing finances.

“They allocate their time, energy, and money efficiently, in ways conductive to wealth building.”

Those who become wealthy don’t often become accidental millionaires. Instead, they take time to set and keep clear goals.

While most of us feel like don’t have time to budget because it is a “waste of time,” millionaires do. It is difficult to reach any kind of a goal until you are first willing to allocate some time to working toward a goal.

3. Millionaires build wealth, not status.

“They believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status.”

Ouch. This one hits home. How often do we buy things based on what others will think? People often talk about teen spending and consumerism, but what about adult spending? A person who is upside down and in debt still thinks they can afford a car payment.

Why do those in debt always seem to spend more money and own nicer things than those who are debt-free? I guess we each need to grow thick enough skin so that we do not think about what others think of us. Make a plan and reap the rewards of your financial planning – even if people think you’re weird.

Here’s an example based on the type of cars millionaires drive:

Latest Model-Year of Vehicle Owned Percent of Millionaires
Current Year 23.5
Last Year’s / One Year Old 22.8
Two Years Old 16.1
Three Years Old 12.4
Four Years Old 6.3
Five Years Old 6.6
Six Years Old or Older 12.3

(This chart is from The Millionaire Next Door on page 113.)

Here’s the deal. Millionaires don’t mind driving older cars. The masses who are in debt love owning new vehicles that cost $25,000+. Meanwhile, they can’t make their minimum car payments.

4. Millionaires have a healthy financial background.

“Their parents did not provide economic outpatient care.”

I’m so thankful this was included in the book. Your parents have a tremendous influence on how you turn out financially. I know in my case, I had solid financial education at home.

In so very many ways, I am who I am because of my parents (thanks, mum and dad). The book goes a different direction with this characteristic by highlighting that the parents of millionaires allowed their kids to be independent and learn important life lessons.

Who is going to be a financial mentor for people who didn’t or can’t learn these lessons at home?

When we think about issues of poverty, we need to recognize that what the poor need are examples and mentors – not just money. Education is important.

Which of these four habits do you think are most important to wealth-building? Leave a comment!

I interviewed a millionaire about 10 years ago and took some great advice away from our conversation – I wrap up those thoughts and takeaways in this quick video so take a look if that’s your thing!

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I write this article as much to myself as to you: I fully realize how money will persistently and insidiously seek to capture a bigger and bigger portion of my heart and my life.

I also know that drifting through life doesn’t work because I seldom drift closer to God.

Perhaps this is why Jesus declared these two loves to be polar opposites:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. – Matthew 6:24 NIV

I am convinced that we need to be very intentional about keeping God first and money last. These tips will help.

1. Have a Regular Prayer Time

I am not talking about praying over a meal or even talking to God as you drive to work. These prayers are fine, but loving God means committing your time to Him. Set aside some time every day just for Him. He would love for you to do so.

2. Serve Others

The second greatest commandment (after loving God) is to love others. Do you serve your family? Do you serve your co-workers (even your subordinates)? Do you check on the widow who lives down the street? Do you volunteer to mentor a child of a single parent?

Notice that I haven’t said a word about money so far. Why? Because the best way to not love money is to proactively love God. As Jesus said, we can’t love both.

Now some money tips that will help us love God . . . .

3. Be a Giver

Why do I emphasize giving? Because doing so is the antidote for loving money.

God is the ultimate giver (He gave his only son). The more we develop a giver’s heart, the more we become like God and demonstrate our love for him.

4. Plan to Increase Your Giving for the Rest of Your Life

This isn’t about tithing, nor is it about legalism; it is about systematically ensuring that we never become complacent. Some of you struggle to give anything at all while others are stuck at 10%.

Why not set a goal of giving a greater percentage annually for the rest of your life? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to give 30% or 50% or 70%? After all, this is about loving God; this is radical and this is about not being like everyone else.

5. Plan to Give Spontaneously

Budget a set amount to keep on hand to be able to bless others as needs arise. Jan and I keep a “bless envelope” on hand packed with cash earmarked to give. This is a fun, grass roots way to keep our giving real.

6. Meet with Accountability Partners

Do you know others who are striving to radically love Jesus? Meet with them regularly to encourage each other, share ideas and give testimonies of ways that have worked. Nothing motivates more than hearing from someone else who has actually done what you are considering.

7. Automate Your Finances

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “lead us not into temptation.” (Matthew 6:13 NIV) Keeping money easily accessible is, for some, a temptation. We keep a small buffer balance in our regular checking account, then have every dollar above that buffer amount transferred monthly to a less accessible account.

8. Set a Maximum Limit for How Much You Keep

Change your thinking from how much you give to how much you will keep. This is not a vow of poverty nor should it be a time for imprudence. But, unless you set a cap, you will drift to higher and higher standards of living without realizing it. Is this not what everyone around you does? Be radical, set that cap, and you will start viewing those pay raises as opportunities to give more. Remember to create a plan that honors God instead of money!

I hope these few thoughts will motivate you to love money less and love God more.

What other ideas do you have? Leave a comment!

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It seems that many Americans think the defining indicator of financial security is your lack of concern for waste.

You can see it all over our culture with movie stars spending $30,000 on a designer handbag to carry their dogs in, or in the rock-n-roll lifestyle where music videos clearly portray the idea that ”money is no object,” often times in a competition of who can have the most gold chains or throw the most cash in the air.

Luke 12:48 explains that “to whom much has been given, much is required.”

For me, this translates into working to minimize waste in my life. I know everyone’s definition of waste is different, but most can agree that we know waste when we see it in our own lives.

In John 6:12 (AMP), after Jesus just miraculously turned a few loaves of bread and fish into enough food for 5,000+ people, he said to the disciples ”Gather up now the fragments (the broken pieces that are left over), so that nothing may be lost and wasted.”

So was Jesus a tightwad?

No, Jesus wasn’t a tightwad. I think he was teaching the disciples a lesson here.

They may have been thinking, “oh, we don’t need to pick this up because Jesus can just make us as much food as we need, whenever we need it.”

Well, yes Jesus could.

But clearly He was trying to show us the value of not wasting, even when it comes VERY EASY, and when there is a whole lot of EXCESS.

What about Judas?

On the other hand you have Judas criticizing Mary with the Alabaster jar for her extravagant (and “wasteful”) act of pouring all the oil on Jesus’ feet.

“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”

-John 12:3-5 ESV

Jesus could have easily agreed with Judas, but instead Jesus defended Mary’s actions as being appropriate.

At first glance, this seems like a pretty stark contradiction.

The way I personally have reconciled these two passages is that I have chosen to be as extravagant as possible when giving to others all the while reducing wastefulness when it is for myself.

What do you think? Join the conversation in the comments below.

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