Rent vs. Mortgage

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In the world of personal finance, there’s not much debate about whether someone should rent or borrow to buy a place to lay their head. Most financial gurus agree that it usually is best for people to buy a home if they can afford the monthly mortgage payment. Each financial know-it-all has a formula that they use to gauge whether or not someone can afford to take on a mortgage. One financial ministry says spend no more than 40% of your take-home pay on total housing costs, including your mortgage. A popular radio/television host and author advises his followers to take out a 15-year, fixed rate mortgage with a monthly payment that’s no more than 25% of your take home pay, even though he says he would save and pay cash.

Some of the reasons given to support the position that getting a mortgage is better than renting is that real estate traditionally has risen in value and renting is just throwing away money. I may not do extensive writing on this subject, but I will do a few interviews with people who have both rented and borrowed to buy and see how they feel about their decision in retrospect. Watch the videos. I believe they will be helpful to renters, owners, and those deciding if or not they want to leave the nest.

Peace & Thanks,
Jamel Black
Foresight Christian Financial Coaching

A Penny Saved is More than A Penny Earned

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This age old adage is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, AKA Poor Richard. However, times have changed and so has the way we need to think about money. With time came the income tax. Yes, in this great land of freedom and opportunity there is a cost to making money. Currently, depending on how much you bring in, you could be charged up to $0.35 a buck, but most people will only pay about 25 cents per dollar.

This means I have to earn $1 to take home 75 cents. However, if I find a way to save a dollar that I would normally have to spend, I come out better than if I had gone to work or sold something for a dollar because my savings don’t get taxed. And the savings don’t stop there. If you live in a place like I do, where they charge a 10% sales tax on everything, you also pay less in sales tax when you figure out how to get what you need for low or no cost. And I’m not talking about the 5 finger discount either!

That being said, it’s worth your time to seek out as many ways as possible to save money. I like to use coupons that use the word “FREE.” But don’t get sucked in to the one’s that say, “Free with the purchase of…” because those usually involve paying for a premium priced product that you wouldn’t normally buy. And don’t go for the “Buy 3, Get 1 Free” deal either, unless you’d already planned to buy 4.

One cool way I found to save is through sites like and At, I like to buy discounted gift cards to stores and restaurants I frequent. For example, I’ll by a $500 Wal-Mart gift card because my budget for the month calls for $300 in groceries and $200 in gas. Since I buy my groceries at Wally Word and I get gas from Sam’s Club, a $500 gift card for $485 just saved me $15. But you say, “$15 ain’t no money!” I say if I do that for Applebees, Chili’s, & The Cheesecake Factory when I go out to eat, and I do it at Home Depot & Lowes when I need something for the house, all of those savings really add up. Think about it. If you had played this game in 2008, you would have made a lot more money than everybody else did in the stock market. This is guaranteed return on investment. You’re basically buying money at a lower price. You’re trading money for more money! The only downside is the restriction to whatever merchant is on the card. But that’s not a big deal if you have some Foresight and plan ahead.

Of course there are many ways to save, but you have to be creative and diligent. It’s work, but it’s worth it. A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Proverbs 10:4-5 (ESV)

Peace & Thanks,
Jamel Black

Do I Need A Budget, Part 1

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Most people think of a budget as something poor people use to make sure they don’t buy anything fun, or a way to keep your wife from buying clothes, shoes, and handbags. That’s surely not the case. Don’t think of a budget as a chain that binds or enslaves, but as a navigation system that guides us to our desired destination in the most expeditious fashion.

Without a road map or a navigation system, we may never get where we intend to go. Why don’t you try it. Get in your car and go to 217 Summit Blvd, Space F1, Birmingham, AL 35243. Don’t ask for directions. Don’t go to Google Maps or MapQuest, or anything like that. Don’t use your Garmin, TomTom, or Magellan. Don’t use your car’s built in Navigation system. Don’t even use the antiquated gas station map. Just get in the car and go. The vast majority of people won’t be able to find their way to the desired location. But using any of the aforementioned tools, most of us could find our way directly to the Apple Store at The Summit.

That’s how it is with money. Most people want to have lots of money, or at least enough to pay their bills and live comfortably. For most Americans, this includes buying food, clothing, houses, and cars. It also includes retirement & sending our children to college. However, many of us struggle to get to our desired destinations safely. For lack of navigation, we take many unplanned detours. This causes us to get where we’re going later than we’d planned. Or worse, we never get there.

On the way to shelter, we get lost in foreclosure. On the way to transportation, we get stuck in repossession. On the way to higher education, we end up in forbearance. Just trying to get to food and clothing, many of us get wrecked by bankruptcy.

A proper road map will ensure you get where you intend to go. If you follow the map. Don’t be the guy who, when his navigation system says, “Make a U-turn,” keeps going straight because he knows better than the plan. Use some foresight and chart your course wisely. Then see your way to your final destination.

Think about what you want to do next month. You want to eat, pay the rent or mortgage, pay the utility bills, put gas in the car, and buy a birthday present for your little cousin, Nay-Nay. So you look at the money you have in your hand, and say, “How can I do these things with what I have?” Let’s say you have $2,000 in hand from last months income.

1. The rent or mortgage payment is probably already decided for you, so you allocate $800 of the $2000 for shelter.

2. You think about what you want to eat, and mark $350 of the remaining $1200 for food.

3. You know it’s winter, and you’re not chopping wood for the fireplace, so you set aside $350 of the remaining $850 on utilities.

4. You then set aside $200 for the gas guzzling SUV and that leaves you with $300 to spoil little Nay-Nay, and/or save for the future.

That wasn’t that hard. Was it? Did it feel like bondage? Did it make you feel poor? No, it probably didn’t. What did it do? It gave you control over that $2000. It made sure those five things you planned to do got done. You gave each dollar a job, and put them to work.

I know you have more bills than that, but this is just an example of how it’s done. The point is to make your money work for you, rather than getting worked over by the lack of money you have at the end of the month and there are still things left undone. This is how we stay on course at the Black’s house. We don’t fear the weather, the traffic, or the state troopers. We know that if we handle our business, and stay the charted course, we will most definitely reach our destinations.

So the answer to “Do I need a budget?” is a resounding YES. If you have money, you need a budget.

Should I go into Debt to Grow my Business?

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This is a very commonly asked question. One of the reasons this question even arises is because sometimes we like to operate on a different set of principles when it comes to our personal finances and our business finances. However, we should use the same good sense we use at home, at work as well. I’ll just touch on a few of the issues here, and you can watch me ramble on for a few minutes about it in the accompanying video.

1. The borrower is still slave to the lender in business, like he is in your personal life. (Prov. 22:7)

2. Slow down, don’t be in such a hurry to grow your business. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Take your time and do it the right way.

3. I know everyone is telling you that you NEED to borrow money to succeed in business, but remember that “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord.” (Prov 21:30) And His wisdom, understanding, and counsel NEVER advised anyone to borrow to grow a business. (I already know those two arguments from Exodus and 2 Kings. Check the context of those stories and original languages before you make negative comments.)

3b. “…and my God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philipians 4:19) If you really NEED additional capital, God will handle that as well. And some will say, “He’ll handle it through a loan.” I say rubbish. God owns everything, He doesn’t have to borrow to get His work done.

4. “But I have to feed my family.” Get a job. You may have to stay at your 9 to 5 a little longer while you raise the funds, or you might need to deliver some pizzas at night to make the difference. Keep your overhead and expenses low at the beginning, and do the extra dirty work. It will pay off in the long run. By the way, “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry…” (Proverbs 10:3)

5. If you borrow now, you will grow faster. That’s almost guaranteed. However, there’s this little regarded factor called RISK. 100% of the companies who ever went into bankruptcy, signed for loans. That will NEVER happen to me. Bankruptcy-Proof-Living…Gotta Love That.

Life Without Loans!

Who’s Your Master, God or Money?

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“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:10-13 ESV)

Many people have the idea that they would be better managers of what God has given them if He would just give them a little more. This passage shows us that the people who handle money improperly with little, would do the same if they were given much.

Don’t throw away 100 pennies in search for a dollar. Maximize what you have, and make every cent count. If you learn to apply God’s wise principles in your lack, the disciplines learned will be invaluable in the event you amass great wealth.

This in itself would be enough to convince a wise man to change his ways, but Jesus took it a step further when He said, “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” I believe the “true riches” spoken of to be spiritual riches, things pertaining to the very Kingdom of God itself. Many people like to separate their “spiritual lives” from their “natural lives,” but when God renews your spiritual life on the inside, it shows up in tangible differences on the outside. Therefore, if you have been “born again,” your bank account should reflect that redemption. And I’m not talking about paying 10 percent to your church, but honoring the Lord with your substance (Pr 3:9), with 100 percent of what He allows to come through your hands.

Be encouraged, be inspired, be diligent.

J. Black

The Spirit of CHRISTmas

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Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14) Have a very blessed day, celebrating the wonderful coming of our Great Lord and King, Jesus the Christ.

When you’re debt free, you can give like you’ve never imagined. This is me in October 2010, visiting some orphans in Ethiopia. We spent over 60 hours just traveling, but the reward is eternal.

Jesus said, 31 ?“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, ?then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him ?will be gathered ?all the nations, and ?he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates ?the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then ?the King will say to ?those on his right, ‘Come, you ?who are blessed by my Father, ?inherit ?the kingdom ?prepared for you ?from the foundation of the world. 35 For ?I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you ?gave me drink, ?I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 ?I was naked and you clothed me, ?I was sick and you ?visited me, ?I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And ?the King will answer them, ?‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these ?my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ?‘Depart from me, you ?cursed, into ?the eternal fire prepared for ?the devil and his angels. 42 For ?I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, ?you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away ?into eternal punishment, but the righteous ?into ?eternal life.” The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Mt 25:31-46.

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