Smart Money Blog

Summertime Stewardship


For many of us, summertime is synonymous with relax time. Whether enjoying the local pool or going on vacation, life takes on a different rhythm in the summer months. When it comes to financial stewardship, that different rhythm presents both challenges and opportunities. Here are some suggestions for meeting one of the biggest challenges and making the most of a couple of those opportunities.

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7 Tips for Using Credit Cards Responsibly


Is debt putting your life on hold? According to a new survey, one quarter of Americans ages 18-34 are struggling with debt. And, because of that debt, they’re delaying big life events like buying homes and having children. Credit card debt was the most common type of debt mentioned in the survey. If you want to buy a home or car in the future, you’ll need a good credit rating—and less debt. So here are some tips for using credit cards responsibly to help you build your financial future.

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Save Your Money, Build Your Future


Stop thinking about saving as “saving for retirement” and start thinking about it as “saving for the future you want.” If you want to work at your job as long as you possibly can, that’s great. But it should be your choice—not something you have to do because you don’t have savings.

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5 Reasons to Buy Your Own Car


Buying a car is a big decision. It’s definitely a financial commitment, but it can be a very positive step for your financial future. You may have heard that the future belongs to ridesharing services and short-term car leasing. But are those really the best choices for you?

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10 Ways to Finance Your Grad School Education


Congratulations! You got your undergraduate degree and now it's time to think about grad school. But how are you going to pay for it? You'll want to have a financial plan in place before you enroll, especially if you're married and supporting a family. Here are 10 ways you can finance your education:

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The Opportunity of Biblical Stewardship


Our identity has a huge impact on how we think and what we do. That’s why, if we want to manage money well, it’s so important to understand who we are in God’s eyes, financially speaking. And why it’s so sad that many of us get this wrong. Let’s start with who we are not. We’re definitely not consumers, despite our culture’s all-out efforts to convince us otherwise. By definition, a consumer is one who destroys, uses up, or spends wastefully. Look it up; it’s right there in the dictionary.

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Easing Into Home Ownership


For the first 10 months of our marriage, my wife and I rented an apartment. Then we bought a condo where we lived for five years. And then we bought a house. We didn’t purposefully set out to follow that pattern; it’s just how our living arrangements unfolded. However, it turned out to be a great way to ease into home ownership that I now recommend to other young couples.

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Membership Matters! Why You Should Join a Credit Union


Have you ever considered joining a credit union? If not, why not? Credit unions offer the same products and services that banks do. Plus, when you join a credit union, you’re part of a movement—a movement of people helping people. Banks serve stockholders and are driven by profit, but credit unions serve their members and are not-for-profit organizations. When you join a credit union, you’re not just a member—you’re an owner!

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Why You Need to Save Money Now


If you’re not saving, you could find yourself in big financial trouble if you have an unexpected expense. What if your car breaks down, or your refrigerator? What if you, or your spouse, lose your job or get seriously ill? Do you have enough in the bank to cover something like that? A savings account can save the day when something unexpected happens. But saving money isn’t just for a rainy day. It’s for all the sunny days in between, too. Are you hoping to buy your own home someday? That someday will get here a lot quicker if you have enough saved up for a down payment. A healthy down payment can help you to get lower mortgage payments and a better interest rate. It can even help you afford a bigger house. And if you’re thinking of buying a car, savings can help you get into an upgraded set of wheels.

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Striking the Right Balance Between Saving and Investing


You may have heard the advice, “Pay yourself first.” The idea is to set aside a portion of every dollar you receive and use that money for saving or investing. But which one should come first: Saving or investing? Or should you save and invest at the same time?

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