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Proverbs Guide to Finance

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young- let the wise listen and add to their […]

Mvelopes, NeoBudget, and Inzolo are all types of software for maintaining an envelope system online. If you haven’t heard of the envelope system, the basic idea is that you put cash in different envelopes for different items in your budget. For example, you put $100 dollars in your grocery envelope, and then you only spend that money on groceries and no more until it is time to fill it again. The idea has been around forever, but Dave Ramsey has made it popular recently.

Today I read a great review from ChristianPF on Mvelopes, and Bob mentioned NeoBudget as an alternative. I decided to check it, and was also introduced to Inzolo. The main idea behind each of the systems is to create a virtual envelope system that can be controlled online. Many people, myself included, don’t really like to carry around cash and prefer using a debit card. It is more convenient in many instances.

The systems allow you to create separate “envelopes” for different parts of your budget. You can then import your transactions online from your checking account, and classify them as to which envelope they should come from. With this you can easily keep track of how much you are spending in each section, and hold yourself to the budget you set.

I had been wanting to try Mvelopes for awhile, but the pricetag had kept me from doing it. It’s not a ton at $12 a month, but it was more than I wanted to spend. NeoBudget and Inzolo are cheaper alternatives, so I am going to give them a shot. Mvelopes does have a free trial which I may try at some point just to do a review, but it was more than I wanted to spend. If want to give it a shot you can sign up for a free trial of Mvelopes Personal here. If you do, let me know what you think of it.

I’ve also considered using Mint as a budget planner. It has very similar functionality, it just isn’t labeled as an “envelope system” so I hadn’t thought of it before. The best part about Mint is it is free. If you don’t like it you aren’t out anything.

I just thought I’d share these alternatives to let anybody who has been considering trying an online envelope system know that they exist. I plan on trying them for a month or two and then I will do reviews for each of them.

If anybody has any experience with any of these systems I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments below. Tell the pros and cons and let us know if you would recommend it.

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Lots of great articles this week from my friends in the personal finance community, if you missed any of them check them out.

Wealth Pilgrim wrote Networking With People – How A Shy Guy Mastered It.

Well-Heeled Blog writes Dream Apartment vs. Shorter Commute: What Would You Do? I’d go with the shorter commute. Mine is 2 minutes and I love it.

MoneyCrush shared A Comedy of Tax-Related Issues.

Bucksome Boomer’s wrote Internet Savings: Are you Taking Advantage of the Opportunities?

Jeff at Delivery Away Debt has some frugal tips to help you save money grocery shopping.

Planting Dollars says Financial Freedom… Now What?

Thanks to Money Help for Christians for including me in Christian Finance Carnival: First Edition.

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1. No Commercials

I really love watching TV without commercials. They just added 24 to the instant queue and I watched the whole first season in the last week. An hour long show only takes 40 minutes, so you can save lots of time. If you want to watch multiple episodes you can while spending much less time in front of the TV.

2. Plenty of Entertainment

There are so many shows and movies to choose from it is great. It seems like everyone says there isn’t anything good on TV anymore, but everyone still pays for it each month. With Netflix you can watch season after season of shows you actually liked.

3. Watch Multiple Episodes in a Row

If you watch 24 or anything like it, you know how great this can be. Every episode ends in a cliffhanger. Sometimes it is so hard to wait a whole week to find out what happens next. When you have a whole season right there on demand you can watch the next show right now, no need to wait.

4. You Get Movies as Well

There are only a few shows that I really like to watch on TV. Most of the time I would prefer a good movie. With Netflix you get a huge selection of movies, not just what happens to be on TV tonight.

5. It’s Cheaper. Save Lots of Money

From their website:

For $8.99 a month, Netflix members can instantly watch unlimited TV episodes and movies streamed to their TVs and computers and can receive unlimited DVDs delivered quickly to their homes.

That is so much cheaper than cable or satellite. I just have the basic package and it is $25 a month. I’m seriously thinking of dropping it completely and only using an antenna to get the network channels. I know some people who spend $80+ a month just for TV. By the time you add DVR, HD, and movie channels it is ridiculous. At the low end you are saving about $200 a year, and at the high end it is $850. Is it really worth it?

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What is Tithing?

by Derek Clark

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the LORD Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. Malachi 3:10

Tithe Box
Creative Commons License photo credit: PortableChurch

A tithe literally means one tenth. The bible says to tithe on all of your increase. Basically what that means is to give ten percent of your income.

Unfortunately, most Christians don’t tithe. In fact, only about 3% actually do. As a whole Christians give less than 3% of their incomes. Some say that tithing is an old testament thing, and it isn’t relevant anymore.

While the New Testament doesn’t specifically say to give 10%, it does talk extensively about giving. In my mind, it couldn’t be any more relevant than it is now.

America has been in a recession for the last few years and unemployment had been hovering around 10%. There are many people that are in need, and I think that those who are capable should give as much as they can.

We are tasked with taking care of the poor, the widows, and the orphans. We need to start taking that task seriously. Tithing, or giving specifically 10%, may not be a requirement in the New Testament, but giving certainly is something we as Christians should be doing. Helping others is always fun, and as a side bonus, God promises to heap blessings on us.

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This was a crazy week for me, my parents were here all week so I didn’t get to write much. I apologize for that, there should be more next week. Luckily, all of my friends picked up the slack and wrote plenty of great articles this week.

Good Steward Keys asks, Am I Crazy For Saying No To A Free Car?

Frugal Zeitgeist says to Watch TV On Your Computer. This can be a great way to save money and cut the cable bill.

Personal Finance Journey wrote 7 Actions for Financial Spring Cleaning. Today is always a good day to get your financial house in order.

Planting Dollars has a nice post about Three of the Best Blog Posts You’ll Ever Read. You should check out all of them. The one from Early Retirement Extreme was my favorite though.

Couple Money has a great Debt Reduction Strategy Guide.

Money Crush is giving away $100 bucks. You should check it out.

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Blueprint For How To Make Money With A Blog by Peter Anderson from Bible Money Matters is a quality package for people who are starting out blogging and are interested in monetizing their work. It does a good job of of giving the step by step of what you need to consider when starting a blog that you hope to make money with, and then how to actually make money. It is especially good if you are just starting out blogging.

What is Included

First off, the package actually includes more than just the ebook. Here is what you get:

Blueprint For How To Make Money With A Blog E-book
.MP3 Audio Version Of The E-book
Printable “Start A Blog Checklist”
Printable “Daily, Weekly & Monthly Blog Tasks Checklist”
Limited Time Bonus – Advice From Successful Bloggers E-Book
Price: $29.95

The Good Stuff

Peter does a good job of covering all the bases that you need to make money with your blog. Starting from choosing the right platform, to picking a good host, and on to the different ways to make money. I particularly like the parts where he went over his story. He shared the mistakes he made with his blog and how he would do it if he could start over. These were some of my favorite sections.

There is a nice section in the middle of the book on the most important part of a blog: The Content. Content is king, and promotion is close behind. You have to create good content and lots of it. Then you have to let other people know about it. The book dedicates 5 chapters to this key to success and provides many good tips.

The last section is all about making money. He gives you an idea of how long it takes to start making money, or at least how long it took for him. He also goes over the many different methods of making money including adsense, affiliate networks, banner advertising, and creating products. He also focuses a chapter on optimizing your ads for the best performance.

The Bad

*crickets* I thought that overall the book was really good, though it was mostly review for me. I have been blogging for about a year and a half so I have been through much of the information presented in the book. It was a great review for me though and reminded me of many things that I haven’t been doing lately. If you are a beginner though, this is a great resource.

The Verdict

If you are a beginner, or maybe haven’t even set up your blog yet, this is a great book that will save you time getting started. If you have been blogging for 2 years and have already made some money from blogging, there probably isn’t that much new for you. If you are set up but haven’t actually made any money yet, this could be a help to you for sure.

The limited time bonus ebook containing advice from many successful bloggers was also very interesting read. It was one of my favorite parts of the package. Getting different perspectives and tips from a bunch of people who have actually succeeded at making money from blogging is pretty valuable. It really lets you know what it takes, as well as letting you know what is important and what is not.

If your interested you can check out Pete’s Blueprint For How To Make Money With A Blog at his site.

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Welcome to the Easter edition of Weekend Link Love at Christian Common Cents. As always there were plenty great articles in the world of personal finance this week.

Good Steward Keys asks the question, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?

Personal Finance Journey gives 7 Actions for Financial Spring Cleaning.

Riding Rocketships For Greater Success was a great post from Financial Samurai. Join with a rocketship, and strive to be one yourself!

Deliver Away Debt just celebrated six months of blogging bliss. Congrats!

Punch Debt in the Face turns 1 year old. Congrats on 365 days of world domination.

My Journey to Millions wrote Using Dividend Stocks to Get Free Coffee. I hate coffee but I do like dividend stocks.

Free From Broke let us know what the Definition of Certificate of Deposit is.

Bible Money Matters asked if it was time to get a second job?

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Who Do You Pay First?

by Derek Clark

Today’s post is a guest post from Brian at Bibledebt.com. He writes articles about money and debt from a scriptural and practical point of view. You can follow his updates at bibledebt.com, on twitter, RSS feeds, Facebook or by visiting his blog.

Over at Financial Bondage, Arthur brings up a topic most of us probably don’t think to much about. In my opinion, what he is really asking is who do you pay first? When you receive your paycheck, where is the first place you go with your money?

Expenses, Expenses, Expenses

There are so many obligations we have financially these days. We need to keep the lights on, the water running and food in our stomachs. We also need to maintain transportation to get to work, entertainment to keep us sane and heat to keep us warm (especially in Michigan where I live). By the way, we also have to make our rent or mortgage payment, so we have somewhere to store our stuff! By the time we pay for all of these things, many times there is still a little bit of month left at the end of our money. Then we may store a little debt on our credit cards and pay off a little bit from last month.

Whew, that is a lot of stuff! I am sure I have missed many other obligations we have such as activities for our kids, money for maintenance and repair on our homes and cars, and upkeep on that beautiful green lawn!
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There is some debate as to where an emergency fund should be kept. Checking account? Savings account? Sock drawer? Penny stocks? Should I just use my credit card for emergencies?

Well if you know me at all you know I’m not going to say use the credit card. What about the others? Well let’s think about the purpose of an emergency fund. It is money set aside for emergencies and emergencies only. If you are on Baby Step 1 it is $1000, and if you are on Baby Step 3 it is 3 to 6 months worth of expenses (or more if you aren’t comfortable with that).

You probably don’t want to go with the sock drawer for 6 months worth of expenses, but if you want to have a few dollars on hand I guess that’s ok. It isn’t going to be the best choice for any meaningful amount of money. If you get burglarized (an emergency) you probably don’t want him to get your emergency fund.
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Give it to them if you can, or don’t do it. It isn’t worth ruining your relationship. I just read a very sad story over at Ultimate Money Blog about loaning a friend money. They needed the money, so she gave it to them. Now after months of saying they would pay it back and then avoiding them and not following through the friendship has mostly been ruined.

It is a terrible situation to be put in, but if a friend or family member asks you for money you have to either say no, or be prepared to give it to them as a gift. Most people have enough pride that this is a last resort, if they are coming to you for money they don’t have any other options. What that means is they most likely won’t be able to pay you back. If you have the money and you really think they need it, give them the money. But don’t expect it back. If you do the relationship will almost certainly suffer.

Proverbs 22:7 – The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

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