What’s Your New Year’s Financial Resolution?

A new year is right around the bend. You’re probably already dreaming up a few new year’s resolutions for 2012. Don’t forget some financial resolutions as well! Here are some financial steps you can take in 2012 to get started on the right foot. Making Promises We Can’t Keep I don’t know about you, but there have been many new year’s resolutions that I haven’t been able to keep. Even though I vowed to get them accomplished, I fell short. You know how it goes: life gets in the way, time evades us, and we end up forgetting what we vowed to do in the first place. Instead of making a firm new year’s resolution this time around, why not try taking “first steps” that lead you in a positive direction? First steps are much easier to complete. So instead of focusing on several accomplishments you want to make in 2012, focus on the first steps. When starting several of these first steps, you’ll find that at least a few will stick! First Steps for a Better Year Alright, here are a few steps you can take this year. Print out this article and tackle these steps one by one! 1. Start a budget. When you start a budget, everything else in your financial life becomes easier to manage. The budget is something that gives you a launching point for doing great things with your money. Start a budget today and you’ll have the basis to change your whole financial picture around. 2. Switch banks. Are you tired of being sold on credit cards? Thinking you’d like more cash back than your 0.1% interest rate checking account? Try PerkStreet . They’ll give you up to 5% cash back on your debit card purchases! In 2011, we made about $500 in cash back simply by using our debit card like normal! 3. Start an emergency fund. Rainy days happen. Don’t think they won’t happen to you! Start your emergency fund  in a separate savings account or money market account. Even if you’re starting with just $100, at least it’s a place to start! Having something in a separate “emergency fund” will prompt you to put more money toward this goal. It’s a great first step to a fully funded emergency fund! 4. Begin the debt snowball. Start paying off your debts , smallest balance first ending with the largest balance. You’ll feel exhilaration quickly when you pay off your first smallest debt; it’s motivation to keep going! Before you know it, you’ll have all your non-mortgage debt paid off . . . no more interest payments! 5. Start a giving fund. There are many Bible verses on giving , so start a giving fund ! Giving is a great way to put money into perspective while blessing others in the process. You’ll experience a special type of joy when you give someone something they don’t even expect! 6. Get your retirement investing going! It’s never too late to start investing. Invest for your sake and your children’s sake. Get your retirement account up and running! The earlier you invest, the more of a return you’ll have! You can do it! 7. Read the Bible. Yes, the Bible has a lot to say about the area of finance. Start reading the Bible. If you fall off your plan, pick yourself up and try again! Eventually you’ll get in the habit and reading your Bible will be like second nature to you. What’s Your 2012 Resolution? Alright, I want to hear from you! What’s your financial resolution? Moreover, what “first steps” will you take toward your financial goals? Leave a brief comment below describing your goal and why it is important to you. We’ll be reading and responding! Sandy 2012 image from Shutterstock Related Articles: The 10 most common new year’s resolutions – is yours on here? How to Earn Over $700 from Your Banks Each Year 7 Ways To Get Serious About Personal Finance Update on My 2% CashBack Debit Card 3 Steps to Strengthen Your Emergency Fund How to Start a Budget: Things I’ve Learned The Hard Way What I’m Financially Responsible For… John Frainee is a personal finance writer at TheChristianDollar.com . His goal is to provide biblical financial principles that encourage people to live healthier lives. Beyond personal finance, John enjoys spending time with his wife and two crazy cats, playing a competitive game of Monopoly, and reading just about anything he can get his hands on. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook . The articles on this site are for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as financial advice. Please contact a financial professional for specific advice regarding your situation. Also, many of the CPF articles help us pay the bills by using affiliate relationships with Amazon, Google, eBay and others. Find out more here .

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3 Major Threats to Your Portfolio for 2012

Many financial forecasts predict tough times ahead.  With trouble in Europe, a struggling U.S. economy, and the lingering effects of the financial crisis of 2007-9 still creating problems, it is no surprise investors are quite concerned.  Do you go to cash?  Should you sell your stocks and mutual funds ?  How will you navigate these choppy waters? Now is certainly not the time to panic, but you shouldn’t “stick your head in the sand” and do nothing either.  Mapping out a game plan for 2012 is critical.  When we see a significant chance for a major downturn like today, many investors become restless or fearful and run for the hills. They sell, sell, sell!   Yet those with a solid game plan often remain patient and keep their long-term portfolio strategies in mind. St. Augustine once said, “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”  The market has certainly seen its share of ups and downs over the years, and it often discovers its own remedy. If you were around for Black Monday in 1987, you probably recall the widespread panic that followed. But you may not be aware that within two years the market had sprung back, fully regaining the value it had lost by September of 1989. Bull, Bear, Rally, or Slump? Often the media encourages investors to think in either/or terms such as bull or bear, rally or slump and euphoria or panic. There will always be another “latest headline”, and if you base your investment strategy on the headlines, the chances are you will end up confused and astray from the principles that work and truly build wealth. However we must also remain prudent and prepare ahead of time for trouble we see brewing.  There are times to be more aggressive (offense) and times to be more reserved (defense).  Today I believe is a time to be much more defensive for the year ahead based on all of our research at Faith-Based Investor . Three Major Threats There are three major threats we see for your portfolio in 2012: 1. Political risk Right now, there is a high risk right now that President Obama will get reelected. Obama believes he is doing a good job for the economy.  He believes things are heading in the right direction and he deserves another 4 years to fix this mess. He believes we need to go deeper into debt to solve our problems. He does not believe our entitlement programs in America need to be fixed. Yet, we are spending far more than we can sustain. On the other hand, Republicans don’t have the solutions either.  So we have gridlock. The political gridlock is harming our financial progress. Democrats want one thing and Republicans want another. Regardless of who is right, we need to make significant changes in the U.S. and this is not being accomplished. Even if a Republican wins the White House, we could see major budget cuts which could swing the U.S. economy back into a recession. That’s what happened when Reagan came into office. It took time before growth took hold . . . . As investors we have to be prepared for more tough times ahead regardless of who’s in the White House. 2. Possible European meltdown Nothing is solved in Europe!  The 16 other European countries are trying to bully Germany to help out the much weaker countries.  Germany is looking out for herself. Of all the solutions and fixes presented in Europe none are significant enough to contain the problems.  They are spreading faster than cancer.  The weak are getting weaker and bringing the strong down with them.  It is only a matter of time before the walls begin to crumble and fall.  There are cracks in the system yet European leaders are unwilling to take the painful steps that need to take place to solidify this major banking system.  This mess could create a global chain reaction. Europe has not fixed any of her problems and this I believe will rear its ugly head in 2012. 3. Global economic slowdown Greece and Portugal are already in a recession.  Italy and Spain are well on their way as well!  The U.S. has seen chillingly slow growth and the “king of growth” China is cooling off.  There are very few countries expanding right now.  My greatest concern right now is with China.  If they continue slowing down, it could take countries like Australia, Brazil, and Canada down for the ride.  These natural resource producers depend on China’s growth. So where do you do from here? Now is the time to take defensive measures for 2012!  In the game of football, defense wins championships it’s not the offense. We created a special report for 2012 to help investors map out a game plan for the tough road ahead. We  believe investors should consider the following four steps: 1. Avoid companies that violate your faith and values. Some of the types of companies you may wish to avoid include those involved in: The abortion industry Producing explicit entertainment and pornography Embryonic stem cell and fetal tissue research Homosexual activism Producing alcohol and tobacco The gambling industry Environmental abuse 2. Seek out those companies that complement your faith and values. This may involve finding companies: Helping the poor and defenseless Protecting the sanctity of human life Producing morally sound entertainment Finding cures for life threatening diseases Improving the society we live in 3.  Seek investments with strong financial potential. Examine the up and downside potential of every investment, look for companies with low debt, attractive valuations, growing earnings, strong management/leadership, in growing sectors of the economy (to name a few). 4.  Seek to diversify your holdings. This involves buying stocks, bonds, alternative investments like gold , silver, and oil, and cash investments. By diversifying your risk, you stand to gain peace of mind and potentially higher rates of return. The bottom line is this: 2012 should be a difficult year for investors, but you don’t have to be “left behind”.  Starting plan now before the storm hits is essential to protect and grow all that God has entrusted to you.  As it says in Luke 16:10 “”If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”   Seek to honor the Lord with your finances and He may very well bless your efforts. It’s no guarantee, but I would rather place by trust in Lord and leave the results up to Him rather than going the world’s way.  How about you? What are your concerns about 2012?  Do you think it will be a good or bad year for the markets and economy?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Meet us in the comments! Investing image from Shutterstock Related Articles: Forex Trading 101: Major Currency Pairs, Most Traded Currencies, & More Guide To Investing: 7 Deadly Mistakes 10 Tips To Manage Your Personal 401k What Is The Best Investment For My Money During These Economic Times? Active Vs. Passive Funds | Understanding the Key Differences Stock Market Basics For New Investors Where do you get your investing advice? Jay Peroni, CFP® is author of The Faith-Based Millionaire , Chief Investment Officer at Faith-Based Investor , and host of the Rethink Wealth radio show . His life passion is helping individuals and businesses keep Christ first in the investment and financial planning process. The articles on this site are for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as financial advice. Please contact a financial professional for specific advice regarding your situation. Also, many of the CPF articles help us pay the bills by using affiliate relationships with Amazon, Google, eBay and others. Find out more here .

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