Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The buck stops here

With tax season around the corner, it's that time again to start thinking about personal finances. Being able to handle finances is such an important part of life and can have the power to either control you or give you freedom. It’s something in which everyone needs to take personal responsibility, and better sooner rather than later. Thankfully, I am generally pretty cheap thrifty, and I’ve been blessed and fortunate enough to not have to carry any debt, other than our newly acquired mortgage (which we plan to pay off in seven years). Saving money has always come naturally to me, so much so that it sometimes feels like I’m just hoarding it away. My biggest issue is the investment part of finances. Of course, I pump some money into my 401(k) at work and have a Roth IRA, but I don’t really have any other investments and don’t pay attention to where my investments are going. I choose a basic risk model and let our financial advisor do the rest. My goal is to become more involved with investing in the stock market. Also, by May, I should have enough saved up to buy a new (or new to me) car with cash.

After scouring the internet for good personal finance websites, I found quite a few that were interesting and useful. Here are just a few to get started:

Another good site for helping with saving is called SmartyPig. This is a free online savings account and tool that helps you reach your savings goals faster and easier. The design and graphics of the site are cute and clean, as well as being user-friendly and easy to navigate. For those who want to make savings a social experience, you can share your goals with your family and friends on different social media platforms, like Facebook, and solicit donations. A big added bonus…a highly-competitive interest rate comparable to current money market rates, and all you need is a low $25 opening deposit. Also important to note: all accounts are FDIC insured, so your money is backed by the government even if the bank were to fail. I haven't signed up yet, but we plan to open up a SmartyPig account to save up for our 5-year Hawaii anniversary.

While money and finances are important in life, it's more important to not let it consume our lives. The Bible addresses money more than 250 times, so God has something to say on the matter. The next verse on the memory verse list, of course, relates to money and possessions.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” - Hebrews 13:5

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