By Ron Bare
We are approaching the end of another year – if you’re like me you often wonder how the year went by so quickly and you begin to understand that our time on earth is short – even if we live to age 100!
Since time is short, we must look to make the most of the resources God has entrusted to us. As you reflect on another year and make plans for the next, consider the following thoughts on generosity that will help us leave a legacy well beyond our time on earth.
Excel – In 2 Corinthians 8:7 Paul talks about excelling in your grace of giving. Just as we work hard to excel in school or our careers, we should also work hard to excel in our grace of giving. The best way to do this is to push ourselves to a higher standard than the year before.
Decide – In 2 Corinthians 9:7 Paul also tells us to decide in our hearts how much to give and to do it cheerfully. We should decide in our heart by setting goals and committing to giving back to the Lord the best or first of all our resources. We should do this not because we have to but as an overflow of our love for Christ who died for us.
Be ready – I Timothy 6:18 Paul again tells us to be ready to share with others and by doing so we will be storing up treasures for the future. I’m not exactly sure what these treasures include, but I believe Jesus when he said “It is more blessed to give then receive”. You never know when God will prompt you, so be ready to share – and be blessed!
We often set goals near the end of a year for the upcoming year. This year why not DECIDE to set some giving goals for 2018 that will help you EXCEL in generosity, so more people will be blessed! In this way you will be READY to share with those in need and store up treasures for your future.
An exercise most of us have had in place since the start of our computer use over the years has been using passwords to access various systems. Most systems we work with require a password just to use, and some even have specific requirements for the details of the passwords we choose. The use of computer passwords has changed a lot since they were started in the early 1960s by Fernando Corbato, a former computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Just as technology has been constantly evolving to help us, it also continues to become more efficient for hackers to create security breaches.
So, what can we do to stay current on how secure we are with our passwords?
First, it is important to create complex, hard-to-guess passwords. This can be tough because we also want passwords that are easy for us to remember. Many sites will require a password that contains one capital letter, one number, one symbol, and a character minimum. One way to accomplish both is to create passwords that are a word that is easy for us to remember but using symbols and numbers as substitutions for specific letters. For example, you can substitute “$” for “s”, “@” for “a”, or “1” for “i”.
Second, we should be changing the passwords on a regular basis, preferably every six months.
Third, we need to keep our list of passwords in a safe place that is easy for us to remember where it is but hard for others to access. Keeping a “hidden” list under your computer keyboard is strongly discouraged. Yes, that may be convenient for you to access, but trust me; you won’t be the only person thinking to look there.
Fourth, the more recent option is to use a password management tool. Password managers make it easy for you to organize your passwords and keep them in a safe place. They can alert you to periodically change your passwords. They can also create complex passwords for you. There are a few trusted and secure password management software packages that many are using to help organize and maintain their passwords. The one to choose will be determined by personal preference. The main goal is to have a system that is easy to use so you will consistently use it. The only reason some of the software is more expensive than the others is that their platforms are more detailed and user-friendly. They all use AES-256 security encryption, a system used by the federal government to safeguard classified information.
Since Equifax announced their cyber-security breach last month, many have become concerned with the security of protecting their identity. As they should, seeing that approximately 145.5 million Americans have been victims of having their information accessed by cybercriminals. America is made up of roughly 330 million people total and a large percentage of that number consists of children under the age of 18 who do not have credit history available on Equifax. This means that the majority of us adults have had our personal information hacked.
So, what should our plan of action be?
There has been more awareness and use of credit motoring sites within the past month, most likely due to the breach. It is important to put effort into the research of which sites are trustworthy and actually monitor the information you need them to. Due to a lot of internet theft and scamming, be sure to know what services you are agreeing to, especially if you are being charged a fee.
Staying up to date on your credit history and score is imperative to protecting your identity. You should be checking your credit at least 3 times per year. This way, if you can detect fraudulent use of your credit and identity, the faster you can take proper steps to resolve the problem.
Dave Ramsey also gives the recommendation of what to do once you have found out your identity has been hacked. First, freeze your credit report accounts. Second, pull all 3 credit reports which include TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Third, look into identity theft protection or insurance. Dave recommends Zander for the insurance on identity theft.
If you have further questions on any of these items, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or point you to appropriate resources.
by Ryan Kurtz
Just in case you haven’t been paying attention the last 3127 calendar days, we are in a bull stock market (as of September 30 measured by the S&P 500). That means stocks have been on a steady climb and have not had a 20% drop from its highest point since 2009. So when will this bull market end?
Before answering that question, let’s start by looking at what has really happened in the last 3127 days.
Over the last 8 years investors around the world were willing to pay more to own companies like Walmart, Apple, and Exxon. Even though the Federal Government shutdown briefly, terrorists attacked different places around the world, and we had two Presidential elections during that time period, investors as a whole have felt confident in owning stocks. The stock market is like an auction, when you have bidders that are willing to pay more for something, you have to bid higher to get it and that is what investors have been willing to do.
So when will this bull market end?
Many economists, financial advisors, and business writers have been more than happy to give their opinions and predictions on when this may occur. The truth be told, nobody knows.
This bull could keep running for another 8 years or the market could begin its descent tomorrow.
To keep things in perspective, let’s look at history and what we can expect to be normal.
Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1900 – 2016 (information based on Capital Group research)
-5% decline about three times a year
-10% decline about once a year
-15% decline about once every two years
-20% decline about once every 3.75 years
What is the lesson in this?
We do not know how long this bull market will last but when it does end, it is not a tragic event. It is normal for investing into the stock market.
So what can you do?
Review your financial plan regularly and make sure you are prepared if your investments in the stock market begin to lose value. Historically, if you were able to hold them long enough, you would have been rewarded by enjoying the next bull market that came along. Although past results are not a guarantee of the future, this can be a comforting fact to a long term investor.
“The market is the most efficient mechanism anywhere in the world for transferring wealth from impatient people to patient people.” — Warren Buffett
If you are wondering if you are prepared for this bull market to end, contact us at Bare Wealth Advisors. We would be happy to review your plan with you.
by Ron Bare
I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of people over the years building financial and investment plans based on their goals, values, and the purpose of the wealth given to them. Looking back over 20 years of doing this, a common theme has risen to the top relating to investment decisions and long term success. It relates to how closely we make investment decisions based on a financial plan compared to making investment decisions outside of a well thought out plan.
When we make investment decisions based on a financial plan that aligns with our goals and values, a few things occur. First, we know how much is enough – a critical element in helping us live a life of contentment. Without knowing what enough to meet our goals is, we are left with accumulation without purpose. A second result of knowing our plans and goals prior to making investment decisions is that we can more easily determine what types of investments (from the endless options) are in our best interests. Most investment decisions should be determined by our values and goals, purpose for the money, timeframe, income needs, and liquidity needs. It is also important to have a proper understanding of risk and return (most of us do not understand the definition of risk – perhaps another blog for the future). However, many investment decisions are based on something outside of these items….
When we make investment decisions outside of a financial plan that aligns with our values, purpose, and goals, we are extremely susceptible to our emotions. A previous blog (March 2017) written about fear and greed can certainly be applicable here. You don’t need to look far to find reasons not to invest. Just pick up the paper or go to your favorite news website and there will be a multitude of reasons not to invest. The ironic item is whether the market is doing very well (such as a time as this) or is doing extremely poorly (remember 2008), the reasons not to invest are always there. My theory is that fear sells more than optimism and journalism wants us to read their press. Therefore, they print fear.
On the other side of emotions is greed. Jesus said in Luke 15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (NIV) Notice the emphasis on “Watch Out!“, Jesus clearly knows we need to be on the lookout against greed and He also makes the point that life does not consist of accumulating possessions. When we have no plan and have not defined “enough”, we tend to want to accumulate more and more. This then becomes our focus. If our focus becomes our possessions, then our investment decisions lead to speculation and an over concentration on the news, markets, and timing – which all lead back to fear. The danger of greed is that wealth begins to control our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, thereby consuming us.
True abundant life should be focused on our relationship with God, our family, and how to make the world a better place. By developing a well thought out financial plan that aligns wealth with our God-given purpose, we can make better investment decisions that honor God, impact our family and make the world a better place.
Financial anxiety is a feeling that many people experience. Whether someone has a large amount of resources or a small amount, it is common to experience some level of anxiety in one’s lifetime regarding money. So, how does one avoid experiencing this anxiety?
To begin, we have to look at the heart. In Proverbs 4:23 Solomon writes, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (NKJV). Some versions begin the verse with “Guard” instead of “Keep”. If we are not constantly guarding our heart, we can quickly fall into the temptations and patterns of this world. We need to transform our hearts to align with the Bible and God’s desires for our lives.
When we begin to worry, we are focusing the eyes of our heart on something other than God. I once heard it said that worry is a form of worship whose object of worship is the future. When we look to the future and begin to worry, we are often imagining the future without including God in the picture. When this happens, our worry increases and we may become paralyzed with fear.
So, how do we overcome this anxiety? One important step is to learn to give thanks in every situation. Whether you are worried about how to make your next mortgage payment or worried about your investment accounts losing value, you can be thankful. If you’re concerned about making your mortgage payment, give thanks that you have the opportunity to own a home. If you’re concerned about your investment accounts losing value, give thanks for the abundance that you have and that you have money saved.
In Philippians 4, Paul writes that he has learned to be content in every circumstance. Notice that Paul writes that he learned to be content. This wasn’t something that came naturally to him. He had to learn contentment. I believe that each of us also needs to learn to be content and it’s not something that comes naturally.
In closing, my challenge to you is to invite God to search your heart and expose the sources of anxiety in your life. As He brings these areas to light, find something to give thanks for and pray for His peace to fill your heart.
by Curtis Burkholder
One financial recommendation clients sometimes think is boring and unnecessary is to have money in a savings account. We normally recommend that a working family have between three to six months of their living expenses in a savings account. For a retired family, we recommend having up to one year of living expenses in a savings account. For a business or a nonprofit organization, we recommend they have at least one month of operating expenses in a savings account. With that in mind, here are five reasons why it makes sense to have money in a savings account:
1. For unexpected expenses
Whether you experience the loss of a job, unexpected healthcare costs, or an unexpected automobile repair, there always will be things that are unexpected financially. If these costs are more then we can cover with our normal income, having money saved is a great way to cover these expenses.
2. To avoid borrowing
You may need a vehicle, want to go Christmas shopping, or just have some things that you want to fix up around your home. If you don’t have money saved for these, you will need to borrow for these expenses. By borrowing money for these expenses, you will have to pay for them over a number of months or years; and usually you will pay interest on the money borrowed. This may mean that a simple Christmas shopping trip could cost you a lot more then what you planned.
3. To meet someone’s need by giving
Paul tells us in II Corinthians 9:8 that we should “have an abundance for every good deed”. If your neighbor loses his job, the local fire company is having a fund drive, or your church asks you to consider helping a missionary that is in need, you can always be ready to give with money that is in a savings account.
4. Be able to take financial risks
Knowing that you have a surplus set aside in a savings account, allows you to take on the risk of losing money when initially opening a business, buying a real estate investment, or purchasing the stock of a company. Even if these investments lose value or fail, you can know that you have some stability by having money set aside in a savings account that is not at risk of being lost.
5. God says that it’s wise to save
Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”
The goal for money in a savings account is for it to be safe and available. That means the money is not at risk of being lost where it’s invested and you can get to it quickly if needed. With that in mind, here are a few places to consider saving money.
1. Your local bank savings or money market account
2. An online bank savings or money market account
3. A money market mutual fund
If you have questions on how much you should set aside in a savings account or where to invest it, please give our office a call. One of our advisors would be happy to talk with you.
by Ryan Kurtz
Medicare insurance is a topic where a fence analogy works well. You may be on the side of the fence saying “I’m too young to be thinking about Medicare”. If that’s the case and you don’t read further, feel free to forward this to someone who may benefit. You could also be on this same side of fence saying “I’m not ready to admit to turning 65 and all of this insurance stuff is overwhelming”. That response is understandable. Age 65 is a milestone birthday and the amount of mail that you receive reminding you of that can be daunting!
The other side of the fence has all the “seasoned” Medicare beneficiaries. You may have been on Medicare for a few years now and while you continue getting all of the marketing information each October during the Annual Enrollment Period, overall you’re satisfied with your insurance plan. Maybe, more accurate, is you just don’t want to think about changing your plan.
Finally, we have the middle of the fence sitters. If you’re one of these individuals you may have resigned to the fact that you are now Medicare eligible. You have read bits and pieces of the marketing information; you’ve talked to a few friends about their insurance plan; maybe you even attended an insurance company meeting discussing those plan details. At this point, you’re looking back and forth wishing you didn’t have to make a decision or that the decision was already made.
Regardless of where you are sitting, feel free to give us a call to discuss this part of your insurance plan. We can help make this process clearer so you can enjoy the green pastures of Spring weather and peace of mind!
As humans, we sometimes make financial decisions based on two powerful emotions: fear and greed. These work as a pendulum swinging back and forth from one end to the other depending on our circumstances and priorities. Both of these emotions can lead us to decisions we will likely regret.
In Matthew 24 Jesus is talking to His disciples about the end times and the picture is not pretty! This chapter is all in preparation to instruct His followers on the importance of being ready for these days and what a faithful steward will look like even in the darkest of times. This is illustrated within the same “sermon” to His disciples in Matthew 25 with the parable of the talents. Being a faithful and ready steward means NOT making decisions based on fear but rather on using all that God has given us to its maximum potential for increase. However, we need to be careful the increase does not lead us to a place of greed, envy, or want which are at the other end of the pendulum.
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 speaks about increase for the owner’s benefit. When the owner returns the steward will give an account for how they managed resources based on their abilities. If decisions are made based on fear or greed, the steward will be punished and has to give back all the resources to the owner. If, however, decisions are based on what the owner desires, the rewards are indescribable… “Come share in the Master’s happiness”!
I would encourage you to go back and read both Matthew 24 and 25 in one setting as this was Jesus’ teaching to His disciples just a few days prior to heading to the cross on Calvary. Jesus wants his stewards to be faithful and that means to use all of what HE has given us in a way that would benefit Him. We’re not worry about the future or be too concerned about what we want. Be on your guard as fear and greed can easily sneak in and prevent you from sharing in the Master’s happiness!
What does the world say about money? It seems to suggest that money itself can offer us success, security, and significance. It seems to offer a promise that if we only have a little bit more, we’ll be happier. Is this true though? When we look around – or within – do we see money equating to these things? Even those in the United States considered to be in poverty have 85% more wealth than the rest of the world. And yet we are surrounded by fear, insecurity, and discontentment – far cries from success, security, and significance.
Why is this? We believe it’s because the world doesn’t understand money, or at the least is offering false promises about it.
If you’re reading this, you most likely agree that the Bible has a lot to say about money, and provides some clear answers and solutions regarding money management. A link to a video summarizing some of these principles is included below, and serves as a framework for how we advise clients in their own money management. Take three minutes and watch the video produced by the Ron Blue Institute and shared to us with their permission.
Do you know of a friend or family member who may benefit from watching this video? Feel free to pass this link to the video on to them as well.
We’re all on this stewardship journey together, no matter which step we’re at in our process. And it’s our honor to walk this path with each of you.
Click here to view the video.
The Team at Bare Wealth Advisors
by Ron Bare
What Does Biblical Generosity Look Like for the Average Wealthy American?
The above title applies to most everyone reading this blog – I know this is true because anyone that earns $30,000 per year is in the top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people. Just the fact that we were born in the United States and had the opportunity to be educated and have been given access to a job automatically puts us in this category. Many of us even fall into the top .3% of the world’s wealthiest (if you earn more than $60,000 per year).
1 Timothy 6: 17-18 says “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.”
In the Old Testament, the Jewish law commanded a 10% tithe on the first fruits of all income as well as other tithes and offerings on top of the 10 percent. When added together these came to over 20% per year (Deut. 14:22-29). Many Christians today teach and believe in the 10% tithe as the primary objective when considering how much to give to the local church and Christian charities. While this may be a good principle to apply, when asking God to define generosity in your life, 10% should not be the end goal of our giving.
New Testament giving is similar to other parts of Jewish law in that Jesus raised the bar. Consider how Jesus taught on murder: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement” (Matt. 5:22). Or consider His words on adultery: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). Still other teachings on divorce, oaths and revenge all in Matthew 5 raise the bar on the standards God has given us.
Giving in the New Testament always centers on generosity: giving with joy and abundance. The Jewish law has been fulfilled by Jesus and many of the principles still apply, only taken to a new, higher standard. After all, “For God so loved the world that he GAVE, his one and only son,” this is the ultimate price and gift that God gave us in the death of His Son. Therefore, Biblical generosity does not focus on a percent or an amount, but has a focus on generosity, being ready to share, and a willingness to give richly to those in need and fulfill the calling on our lives – which primarily is to fulfill the great commission.
Practically, what does this mean for us? It starts by answering the question, “Who owns the money I have?” Psalms 24:1 says “The earth is the Lords and everything in it.” If God owns all we have, then we must follow with another question: “What does God want me to do with His money?” Giving generously is a theme in the Bible and defining generosity is answered only in a relationship with God. Only He can lead you to the answer. This answer will lead you to a life of better contentment and understanding of the Biblical truth that “It is better to give than receive” – Jesus (Acts 20:35).
Finally, Paul also tells us in Corinthians that we should “excel in our grace of giving”. To excel in any area of life we must work at it, practice, or push ourselves to new areas – whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. To excel in giving these same principles apply: we must work at it and take steps of faith to stretch ourselves. Finally, the best part of all of this is that giving generously comes with great promises! Continuing from the above 1 Timothy passage, verse 19 says: “By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.”