Kids and Quicken

quicken2.gifWhen teaching Junior Achievement classes I always point out that while money can’t buy you happiness (really – studies show that aside from abject poverty money won’t make you happy), mismanaging money can buy you unhappiness.  So we’ve tried to teach our kids how to esteem money properly (give 10% or more back to God, save 10% or more for retirement, avoid all debt except a mortgage and pay it off when you can, etc.)

When the girls were young we went the classic savings account route with them.  But when interest rates kept dropping the message became counterproductive.  The Credit Union interest was 0.2% – not two percent, but point-two percent.  As in 20 cents per year on a $100 account balance – hardly an incentive for savings. 

I closed the accounts and set up accounts for them in my Quicken database.  I started paying them a 10% annual percentage rate and added it to their account once per quarter.  It was a simple way to encourage savings.

It also had the benefit of introducting them to Quicken and tracking their spending.  They now have separate accounts for spending, savings and clothes.

Earlier this year we gave them credit cards to use.  This was a little bit of a concern, since studies show that people spend 18% more when using credit.  But both girls (currently in 9th and 11th grades) watch their savings balances like hawks so they see the balances go down as soon as they buy anything.

The girls use their credit cards for all their purchases then code them into the appropriate accounts in Quicken (clothes, spending, gas, groceries, etc.). 

They also learned how to reconcile the credit card statements in Quicken so they know how that process works.  And they see that credit cards are for convenience and that we only buy things when we have the cash in the bank already.

We give them a normal allowance plus a clothes budget, so they have learned to monitor their spending and make trade-offs (i.e., buy more clothes that are less expensive or fewer clothes that are more expensive, or a mix).  They are terrific shoppers and work hard to get good deals.  We have baseline you’re-part-of-the-family chores (dishes, laundry) though we’ll pay them for extras sometimes.

This process might not work for everyone, but it has been very useful for us. 

Do you have any money management tips to share?

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Psalm 30

ps-30.jpgGreetings!  There are two main possibilities for the writing of this Psalm – either for the dedication of the site for the future temple (build by David’s son, Solomon) or after God stopped the plague He sent in response to David’s call for a census in 1 Chronicles 21. 

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

1 I will exalt you, O Lord,

for you lifted me out of the depths

and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

2 O Lord my God, I called to you for help

and you healed me.

3 O Lord, you brought me up from the grave;

you spared me from going down into the pit.

4 Sing to the Lord, you saints of his;

praise his holy name.

5 For his anger lasts only a moment,

but his favor lasts a lifetime;

weeping may remain for a night,

but rejoicing comes in the morning.

6 When I felt secure, I said,

“I will never be shaken.”

7 O Lord, when you favored me,

you made my mountain stand firm;

but when you hid your face,

I was dismayed.

8 To you, O Lord, I called;

to the Lord I cried for mercy:

9 “What gain is there in my destruction,

in my going down into the pit?

Will the dust praise you?

Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

10 Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me;

O Lord, be my help.”

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;

you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Verse 5 above reminds me of this passage in Hebrews.  We don’t like to hear this, but God loves believers enough to discipline them.  As the saying goes, He is more concerned about our holiness than our happiness.  But we can trust that his favor and forgiveness for eternity. 

Hebrews 12:5-11 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

How to find a good church

church.jpg

Click here for a good checklist.  I should have used a checklist like this 10 years ago when we were switching churches.  At the time I was a little naive about such things and didn’t think there was much of a difference between Protestant denominations. 

Things have worked out fine, because the church has generally become more orthodox over the years. 

Weekly roundup

microphone.jpgCARM Radio Show Podcasts is one of my favorite new Podcasts.  The host is Matt Slick (his real name) and he covers a variety of topics, including conversations with atheists, Mormons, etc.  I’ve mentioned the CARM website before (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry).  It has a wealth of easily accessible information.

Sting only has seven opulent homes to maintain, so he’s the perfect spokesperson for conservation. 

A nice summary of the problem with Hillarycare.

Psalm 29

ps-29.jpgGreetings!

The Bible Knowledge Commentary mentioned something I’d never heard before:

David witnessed an awesome thunderstorm moving across the land of the Canaanites, and attributed it to the power of the Lord. He called on the angels to glorify Him who sits as King forever over nature. Psalm 29 is a polemic against pagan beliefs in false gods who were credited with being responsible for storms.

Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

A psalm of David.

1 Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones,

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;

the God of glory thunders,

the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.

4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;

the voice of the Lord is majestic.

5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;

the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

Sirion like a young wild ox.

7 The voice of the Lord strikes

with flashes of lightning.

8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;

the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks

and strips the forests bare.

And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

the Lord is enthroned as King forever.

11 The Lord gives strength to his people;

the Lord blesses his people with peace.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

David mentions the LORD once or twice in every verse.  He relentlessly gives God his rightful credit for having sovereign power over everything.  This is refreshing.  So many Christians are too bashful to claim that Jesus is God and the only way to salvation.  May we all be more bold like David!

The human condition

dna2.gifMany great works of literature such as Crime and Punishment, Macbeth and the Tell-Tale Heart explore the truth that no amount of rationalization will drive away guilt.  This works on big and small sins.  And as Romans 1 points out, rejecting God is a big sin.

All people sin, and they know it.  This leads to guilt, which leads to fear of being punished.  Sin ==> Guilt ==> Fear.

There are three main options people choose to deal with this fear:

  1. Outward denial of God’s existence, ranging from ignoring him to “in your face, God!” words and actions.  Because if there is no God, then there is no eternal judgment.
  2. Make up your own religion
    • Pick the rules that are least tempting to you.  Convince yourself that these are the ones that really count and that you are a good person for obeying these rules most of the time.
    • This will ultimately fail because deep down you know it is your own creation.
  3. Accept what Jesus did on your behalf and have forgiveness of your sins and reconciliation with God.

P.S. Here are two things that didn’t happen when I became a Christian:

  1. No one said, “I told you so!”
  2. Humbling myself to admit I was a sinner and not in charge of everything wasn’t as bad as I feared.  In fact, I knew it deep down all along, so it was refreshing to be honest about it for once.

Busy busy busy

Hi – I’m going to be rather busy the next couple weeks so I’ll be doing a limited amount of commenting here and at your blogs.  I just didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten about you.  I really appreciate all the loyal readers and visitors, and I enjoy reading your blogs.

I have posts set to go every day or so.  Have fun!