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Whose Report Will You Believe In 2013?

posted Mar 7, 2013, 10:45 AM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated Jul 18, 2013, 6:30 AM by Charles C. Christie,Jr. ]

Investment professionals, Wall Street and, of course, our elected officials in Washington are all busy trying to convince us that America's economy is recovering just fine.  And with the CBO's February 2013 report showing an increase in private-sector jobs along with the Dow Jones Industrial sector hitting an all-time new high this week, is it any wonder that many are ready to uncork the champagne bottles and celebrate the major improvements to our languishing economy?

Well, let's not celebrate just yet!  In spite the seemingly positive news and financial trends we are seeing and hearing, there seems to be other activity afoot, especially among America's wealthiest percentage of our investor population.  And like they used to say about E.F. Hutton, when our billionaires speak, everyone listens!..

For specific details and an important Biblical mandate, please visit my most recent blog posting at http://blog.mylpi.org.  I assure you that your perspective of our economy might be reshaped after reading this...  If not, then we should talk further so that I can share additional details not placed in the blog but are equally compelling.  For my money, the Biblical mandate will always win out.

Planning to Leave Your Children An Inheritance?

posted Feb 20, 2013, 6:21 AM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated Oct 29, 2013, 6:25 AM ]

My advice is to every Christian parent is to allow God’s Kingdom perspective to take precedent in all aspects of our financial decision-making.  You will not go wrong!

On the subject of inheritance, one of America’s richest men was quoted as adhering to the following philosophy.    Billionaire Warren Buffet said about leaving money to kids, Wealthy parents should leave their children with enough money to do anything they want but not so much that they are doomed to do nothing at all.”   That is a great sentiment, but notice that Buffet’s advice was directed at other wealthy people.   And why is that?  Should not this same advice apply universally?

In a Los Angeles Times article published September 5, 2011, the author Walter Hamilton cited an opposite sentiment as expressed among Baby-Boomers who said they planned to leave nothing to their children.  Hamilton says that “Unlike previous generations, some baby boomers believe they've already given their children enough, and they plan to spend the money they've saved on themselves.”  As a Baby-Boomer myself, I find this point of view troubling both as representing a selfish mindset, and because it is the opposite of a Kingdom perspective for succession planning.

Baby-Boomers are also known as the “sandwiched generation,” meaning that many have had to care for aging parents—from the Post-Depression era—while raising their children and planning for their retirement years.   Some have escaped this challenge, but many are still living it today.   So, how their financial pie gets split is in many ways dictated rather than selected.  Accordingly, when it comes to estate planning, less than 30% of Boomers have any idea what an estate plan should even look like, let alone have decided not to leave an inheritance to their progeny.

That is on a practical, real-world basis.  But there is another perspective that is far more significant to many, especially once they realize that doing so is very achievable.   I am referring to one of many Biblical references found in Proverbs 13:22 which say that “A good man [i.e. parents] should leave an inheritance to their children’s children…”    This verse not only encourages that our children receive a legacy from us but that our grandchildren inherit as well.

So, which category do you fit into as a parent contemplating your estate?  Are you wealthy?  Are you a Baby-Boomer who believes you are right to leave nothing to your children?  Or, does the Proverbs 13:22 verse have any significance to you?

If you have any questions about these scenarios and how to develop an estate plan that fits your faith, why not give us a call?

What Criteria Will Determine When and How You Retire?

posted Jan 29, 2013, 6:07 AM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated Jan 29, 2013, 6:13 AM by Charles C. Christie,Jr. ]

Most people plan for retirement haphazardly or not at all.  With little or no conscious intention, those who work for others are often guided in their retirement decisions by the benefit plan and policies their employer offers. 

Unlike federal, state and local government agencies and the military which offer 20-year retirement options, most private employers offer benefit plans that require five-ten years of employment before an employee is considered fully vested.  Older workers often qualify as fully vested even when they have less than five years of service.   Usually under normal circumstances the employee must reach a certain age to qualify for retirement benefits with the minimum being age 59 ½.   Accordingly, unless one intentionally retires early, private employers offer plans that usually develop over a normal work period of forty or more years.   Accordingly, this is how investment advisers generate analysis on retiring for their clients.

In cases when an employer is encouraging early retirement as a way to thin their ranks, an employee may also qualify through an employer plan involving a combination of age and years of service to determine eligibility for when retirement benefits will begin.   But, even with one or more of these imposed criteria influencing your decision, the question which remains is what criteria will you use to determine when and how you will retire?

Conventional wisdom says we should all plan for retiring someday.  But little if anything is said as to what we should consider beyond the obvious!   As we age we are often less capable of doing for ourselves or providing our services to others.  And without a lifetime guarantee of regular income, a retiree would need a pretty hefty nest-egg that can sustain them during their retirement years.

These are, of course, the obvious reasons to plan.   But how about looking at this from a Kingdom of God perspective as well?   Are your plans to retire in keeping with His will for your life, or the purpose He has given you to fulfill?   And if you are healthy and have all the finances you could ever need, should you retire and do nothing in life simply because you can?

For other considerations from God’s perspective, the LifePlanning Institute offers such insight in its formal courses and through its book titled, The Kingdom Life Approach: A Purpose-Driven Strategy for Living Your Best Life Ever. (See Publications) Imagine how differently you will plan for retirement when you fully understand that God wants a say in how you live, work and fulfill your purpose in life!   

Don’t Let Taxes Change Your Kingdom Mission!

posted Jan 22, 2013, 3:55 AM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated Jan 22, 2013, 3:55 AM by Charles C. Christie,Jr. ]

Taxes are everywhere and can be incurred in almost every financial transaction.  This can affect how you budget as well as the amount you actually manage.  So, when it comes to taxes, consider the following:

 1.   Income of All Types Is Subject to Taxation

 Whether earned Income, Passive Income or Windfall Income, like Inheritance or Lottery Winnings, each are subject to federal and, in many instances, state and local income tax.  This could represent 10% - 50% of your reported income for the year.  Caution: Taxing agencies are always looking for new ways to raise revenue.

 2.   Taxes May Significantly Reduce Your Spendable Income

 Besides annual income and payroll taxes, many individuals are subject to other tax types, such as Property Taxes, Excise Taxes, and of course, general taxes on most consumer purchases.   Combined, these can contribute significantly more to your overall tax obligation, leaving as little as 40% for spending.

 3.   Taxes (and Spending Priorities) Can Adversely Affect Giving

 The Barna Group research studies conducted in 2009-2011 show that regular donations to religious organizations, like churches, has been declining by a rate of about 3% annually.  No doubt many who give less today attribute their decision to the effects of the economy, job losses, and other spending related causes.  Few, however, consider their spending priorities as affecting their decision.

 Even though a recession-based economy affects many, the decision to give should be predicated on more than budgetary priorities.  The Kingdom Life Approach to Glad-Giving can provide you with a different way to understand God’s purpose and our commitment to give, save prudently and spend appropriately, no matter how the economy is doing.   LPI can also introduce you to a financial concept we use described as I+P=V.  It will help you plan and apply Kingdom Principles for Giving with tremendous joy!   Ask us about it.

How to Live Your Best Life Ever in 2013!

posted Jan 14, 2013, 11:31 AM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated Jan 14, 2013, 11:31 AM by Charles C. Christie,Jr. ]

Last week I wrote that you should trust God with your plans if you want to succeed in whatever you are doing. This week I want to share what—I think—are the 3 Most Important Ways to Live God’s Way:

 1.   Seek first the Kingdom of God… (Matthew 6:33)

Show your commitment and determination to pursue God above all else in 2013, and He will help you.  Remember, He is the only Source who truly knows who you are and what you should do in life.  And He says in His word that when we do, “all these [other desired] things will be added to you!”

 2.   Seek to Know Your Purpose… (Proverbs 19:21)

Though our human tendency is to devise our own plans, “it is God’s purpose that prevails.”  So why strive to do things your way when the Lord says:  “Unless [He} builds the house, they labor in vain that build it!” (Psalm 127:1)

 3.   Redirect Your Financial Goals, Priorities and Strategies to Achieve His Purpose… (Proverbs 16:3)

Trust God to show you His will and plan for your life, and then re-organize and re-prioritize your resources:  i.e., your time, talent and treasure to achieve it.  God’s Word says “Entrust your efforts to the LORD, and [as a result] your plans will succeed.”   (Proverbs 16:3)

This is what we at the LifePlanning Institute lovingly refer to as the Kingdom Life Approach.   And as practitioners of our own advice, we assure you that this 3-Step Process is a strategy that cannot fail! And, remember that we are here to help you with every step as you seek to live your best life ever…

Why Not Insure Your 2013 Resolutions?

posted Jan 10, 2013, 12:26 PM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated Jan 10, 2013, 12:30 PM by Charles C. Christie,Jr. ]

For many individuals, the natural tendency at the start of each New Year is to make promises to change certain things about one’s life.  How about you … Have you made any resolutions for 2013?

 If you did, it would benefit you to remember that “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s Purpose that prevails.”   (Proverbs 19:21).

Christians in particular must remember that your right to make unilateral decisions about your future is no longer optional.  You were bought with a price,”  and, therefore, “Your life is no longer your own …”   (1 Corinthians 6:20).

But fret not.  This is actually great news as God, our Heavenly Father, wants to inspire and direct your endeavors throughout 2013.  Why?  Because He knows His plans for you:  “...Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   (Jeremiah 29:11).

 So, if you want to live your best life in 2013, submit yourself to God’s plan!

Two Reasons To Give

posted Sep 18, 2012, 4:29 PM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated Nov 29, 2012, 12:26 PM by Charles C. Christie,Jr. ]

There are many references made to the sayings of Jesus, but none seem more significant than these:  

1.  "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10:7) KJV ; and,
2.   The greatest two commandments are these:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'."  (Matthew 22:36-39) NIV

Why are these so much more significant?  Because both exhort Christians to acknowledge the Lord God by doing what He demonstrated first.  That is by giving of ourselves, our time and our possessions.  Each of these were first gifts to us, and they can be used to give to others.

John 3:16 makes this point quite plain.  "God so loved the world [meaning mankind] that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus Christ].  So our act of giving is the best expression of our God-nature which pleases Him and can benefit each of us in this life.

Money Will Always Follow God’s Mission (June 16, 2012)

posted Jul 20, 2012, 6:45 AM by Charles C. Christie,Jr.   [ updated Jul 20, 2012, 6:46 AM ]

Sometimes even the best of our intentions travel unpaved paths and seem to lead away from our desired destiny.   But, it is equally true that things are not always what they seem.

Jesus began His public ministry speaking to a few people which quickly grew into multitudes.  And like any major event, it takes money to host and generously serve those who come to these special events.  Tradition says you must charge people to get what you have, or you must go out and find others who will underwrite the event as sponsors and donors.  But Jesus took a different approach when He chose to make provision Himself and through the blessings bestowed by His Father.

Choosing to do out of obedience to God’s instruction will always activate God’s provision, not the other way around!  Far too often well-intentioned people postpone their assignment until they see God’s provision or can raise the money themselves. 

I say stay the course in finding how to take your blessing and share it with others first, then trust God for the increase.  He absolutely loves when His children are dependent on Him, and He alone!

3 Reasons Most People Face Financial Hardship (May 28, 2012)

posted May 29, 2012, 11:45 AM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated May 31, 2012, 7:16 AM by Charles C. Christie,Jr. ]

Economic conditions, notwithstanding, there are three reasons that generally apply when examining financial hardship.  They are:

1)  Poor Planning-  (Lack of clearly defined & strategically planned goals.)
2)  Lack of Discipline-  (Easily swayed by consumerism, circumstances and "The Jone's Syndrome.)
3)  Lack of Proper Support-  (Did not obtain the right type of advisers and counselors.)

Interestingly, there are four that generally apply to Christians who face financial hardship, and they are different. Remember, Christians are God's earthly stewards, so a standard for our financial service already exists!  You can read more in my June 2nd blog at www.kingdomseedblog@wordpress.com. 

When God Asks—and He Will—Say Yes! - (May 21, 2012)

posted May 22, 2012, 3:25 AM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated May 23, 2012, 8:39 AM by Charles C. Christie,Jr. ]

Many people give lip-service to God about wanting to know their purpose until, of course, they are asked to perform an assignment. It is usually an inner voice that is clear and audible to the recipient that cannot be ignored. Rather, this voice gives a Kingdom instruction which requires a specific answer of Yes. 

In Matthew 7:21 Jesus is quoted as saying "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” That’s because He knew that God, Our Father, is always attempting to instruct us on His will for us. But our general response—assuming we do respond at all—has been to either say “No” by our actions, or “But Lord!,” which in the eyes of God is far worse.

Better yet, why wait to be asked? Why not ask Father to tell you His will? It is always better to be proactive with God, which shows that you are actively seeking His will for your life and—ironically, His first assignment for us all! (Mt. 6:33)

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