Lee Jenkins on Money: Real Solutions to Financial Challenges

Overview

An unstable economy. A shaky stock market. Businesses facing huge financial losses. People losing their homes, jobs, savings, and...hope?

Is the sky falling in? Some feel that way. Is God still in control? Others wonder as they see and experience fallout from the greed and corruption that is seemingly pushing our nation to the brink of bankruptcy. 

In Lee Jenkins on Money, financial analyst Lee Jenkins answers questions about the...

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Lee Jenkins on Money: Real Solutions to Financial Challenges

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Overview

An unstable economy. A shaky stock market. Businesses facing huge financial losses. People losing their homes, jobs, savings, and...hope?

Is the sky falling in? Some feel that way. Is God still in control? Others wonder as they see and experience fallout from the greed and corruption that is seemingly pushing our nation to the brink of bankruptcy. 

In Lee Jenkins on Money, financial analyst Lee Jenkins answers questions about the nation's changing economy and other financial matters readers may be facing in the midst of this difficult financial climate. He helps them take a sober and responsible look at their finances and challenges them to be faithful stewards over what God has entrusted to them. Lee shows that by looking at life from God's perspective and applying biblical principles to their finances, readers bear witness to the fact that God is still in control and there is still hope.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

What to Do When Your Money is Funny  is entertaining, informative, biblically based, and easily applicable. Whether you are in a financial crisis or have questions about how to handle the millions you have in the bank, this book is for you. Lee Jenkins is a financial expert whose knowledge and integrity I wholeheartedly trust.  I pray that you too will be blessed by His God-given wisdom.  Enjoy!
-Bishop Eddie L. Long, Senior Pastor, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Lithonia, GA.

What to Do When Your Money Is Funny is a treasure chest full of valuable financial insights from a practical and biblical perspective. It's an enjoyable, easy-to-read book. Regardless of where you are financially; you need to read this book and then keep it in your library as a financial reference guide.
-Dr. B. Courtney McBath, Senior Pastor, Calvary Revival Church, Norfolk, Virginia

My good friend Lee Jenkins is an extraordinary teacher who knows how to take complicated financial issues and make them plain. He knows his God, he knows the Word, and he knows about money.  That's what makes this book and his ministry so powerful!
-Dr. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, President, The Urban Alternative

Lee Jenkins' knowledge and insight regarding money is very valuable to the kingdom of God.  I have personally benefitted from his ministry and expertise.  If you want to be educated, encouraged, and empowered in your financial life, then this book is for you.  What To Do When Your Money Is Funny is for those who are looking for answers to everyday financial issues.  Read it and you won't be disappointed! 
-Teresa Hairston, Founder and Publisher, Gospel Today Magazine

Lee Jenkins has delivered a truly remarkable book that I highly recommend to college students and athletes. A lot of debt and financial mishaps start in college and follow people for the rest of their lives. What to Do When Your Money is Funny will help the young and the old avoid plenty of financial mistakes.
-James "Mitch" Mitchell, Football Chaplain, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Lee Jenkins has an abundance of financial wisdom. In his book What To Do When Your Money Is Funny, he provides life-changing solutions and practical antidotes to help you become a better steward of God's resources. This book has changed my financial destiny, and it will change yours too!
-Robert Watkins, President, Kings & Priests International, Atlanta, GA 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802488039
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/23/2009
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 812,360
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


LEE JENKINS (B.A., University of Tennessee, Knoxville) is regarded as one the nation's top Registered Investment Advisors. He is President and CEO of Lee Jenkins Financial, LLC. An ordained minister, Lee is founder of Economic Evangelism, Inc. He is the author of several books, including What to do When Your Money is Funny and Taking Care of Business. Lee and his wife, Martica, live in Atlanta, Georgia with their three children.
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Read an Excerpt

Lee Jenkins on Money

Real Solutions to Financial Challenges


By Lee Jenkins

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2009 Lee Jenkins
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57567-370-7



CHAPTER 1

BUDGETING AND SPENDING


The Real Deal about Budgeting and Spending

They say that money talks; when it does, it usually says, "Goodbye!" If you don't direct your money and tell it where to go, then believe me, it will find a way to leave you faster than a bank robber fleeing the police.

One of the smartest ways to gain control of your money is by developing a spending plan, more commonly referred to as a budget. Now don't get freaked out on the word budget! By the end of this chapter, I bet you'll run toward it, not away from it. Establishing a budget just means you've decided to tell your money where to go, directing it with purpose and intent. A budget is simply a plan for your spending, which allows you to manage your money in order to reach your financial goals. A budget brings order to your financial life.

Believe it or not, we all have a budget of one kind or another. For some people, it means they spend aimlessly until all the money for that month is gone. The result, in most cases, is more month than money. (How many times have you been there?) This type of "budgeter" spends all the cash they've earned and must then rely on credit cards or loans to fund monthly deficits. Then there are those who make enough money to be careless without detrimental results. The careless budgeters make pretty good money but overspend, buying expensive indulgences on impulse because they know they can get away with it. Their money motto is, "I've got it, so why not spend it all?" These spenders usually wonder, "Where did all of my money go?"

The final type of budgeters are those who plan their spending not just in their head but on paper. They don't "wing it" every month and hope for the best. These true budgeters are able to maximize their financial potential because they have a plan.

The goal for everyone, regardless of their income levels, should be to become good stewards of God's resources. To do this, you must live by a plan in order to maximize your earnings and spend your money wisely, as God advises. You can't do that without living by a real budget!

According to one study by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the number one reason people fail financially is the inability to delay gratification. We want what we want and we want it now! That's why, in order to make a budget work, you must have self-control. This is a spiritual issue because it requires discipline and control of your desires and impulses. King Solomon accurately described the person who lacked self-control: "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls" (Proverbs 25:28 ESV). In ancient days, a city without walls was subject to any intruder who passed by and was thus in a state of disarray. Have you ever opened your wallet or stopped at the ATM and felt like your account had been pillaged? Without a budget, your financial "city" is prey to any indulgence, get-rich-quick scheme, or predator you encounter.

Regardless of your current budgeting style, sip on this advice:

* Budgeting is like getting in shape physically—it's a little uncomfortable at first, and it takes time, but don't give up. It typically takes three months to see the results of your budgeting discipline.

* A budget without a goal is drudgery. Don't focus on what you are giving up or can't do. Focus on what the discipline of a budget now will allow you to do in the future (save more money, get out of debt, buy a car, purchase a house, or fund your child's college education).

* Don't keep the budget in your head. Write it down on paper or use a computer software program. It's not a real budget unless it's documented.

* If married, both spouses need to do their budget together.

* Get the entire family involved in the process (that includes the kids). Budgeting is a group effort that works best when everyone is involved.


Challenges and Solutions

CHALLENGE * What can I do to help myself get started on a budget and stick to it? I'm having trouble sticking to a budget; it just doesn't ever seem to ever work for me.


SOLUTION * Budgeting is simple, but I never said it was easy! The reason most people's budgets don't work is because they continue to spend more than they make. No budget can fix that. Again, you may have to make some drastic adjustments to your lifestyle to get your budget balanced. There are a lot of reasons that budgets don't work.

First of all, go through each budget category shown in the "Percentage Guidelines" table (see "Helpful Tools," page 221), and compare it to your own spending. If your percentages are way out of whack, you will need to make some tough decisions. Also, make sure that you are using a system that is best suited for you. Some people use the envelope system (putting money for each category in separate envelopes), some write everything down in a notebook, others like to monitor everything by computer. Find what works for you and stick with it.

Second, make sure you are being realistic when establishing a budget. Many of the people I speak to and counsel get discouraged because they haven't been able to make a budgeting system work. I've found that in most cases it's because they are not being realistic. Allocating zero dollars to budget items like entertainment, recreation, clothing, miscellaneous, or some other category is unrealistic. Having a budget doesn't mean you'll never go to a movie or restaurant. So be real with yourself, and then do your best to stay within those parameters. Use the "Estimated Budget" form in the "Helpful Tools" section to specify amounts that are realistic. Create a plan, then be sure to stick with it.

Third, stay away from people, places, and things that tempt you to spend. (Most of the time, it's our actions that cause the budget not to work.) Solomon says, "The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence" (Proverbs 14:16 NLT).

Sometimes people in your life can trigger excessive spending and bust your budget. I remember when I was in my twenties and quite a few of my friends were professional football players. When we were together, they loved to go out and eat at nice restaurants. They could afford to do it, but I couldn't! I had to let them know that I was on a budget and I couldn't afford to do fine dining every time we ate out. When you're on a budget, you can't afford to keep up with the Joneses.

Also, pay attention to places that prompt unnecessary spending. Malls, jewelry stores, and department stores are common budget busters. (Home Depot is my weakness!) To stick to your budget, you've got to know your weaknesses and drive right past them.

Things can also activate surplus spending, like shoes, golf accessories, clothes, food, and art. If you've made it this far without those items, then you probably don't need them. Besides, no one will care how good you look when you're standing in the poorhouse.


CHALLENGE * What can I do to balance my budget and save money? My monthly expenses are more than my monthly income. I know I'm living above my means because I constantly live from paycheck to paycheck and never seem to have any extra money.


SOLUTION * There are only four things you can do: (1) reduce your expenses, (2) increase your income, (3) find new money, or (4) do a combination of all three. Let's talk about these options.

You're not alone; the average American spends $1.20 for every one dollar earned. Yes, that's right, every time you and your neighbors make a dollar, you not only spend it all but you borrow an additional twenty cents. It's impossible to save money that way.

The first order of business before you begin to cut your expenses is to find out where your money is going. This is one of the benefits of creating a budget, because it enables you to track everything you spend and get an accurate account of all your expenses.

After that, it's time to start eliminating or reducing unnecessary expenses. This may require replacing your house or car with something more affordable. Other alternatives include moving into a cheaper apartment or finding a roommate. Even modifying small expenses like dry cleaning, eating out, and going to the movies can save hundreds of dollars each month. Put a halt to weekly shopping sprees, unplanned grocery purchases, and indulgent gifts. You must also be willing to give up some of your habits, like getting your hair and nails done (ladies, don't curse me), drinking gourmet coffee, and going to the car wash every week (brothers, break out the hose and do it yourself, or add it to the kids' chore list). These changes may hurt, but they're absolutely necessary if you want to end the money drought.

After reducing expenses, the next thing to do is increase your income. If you can't convince your boss to give you a substantial raise, then you may need to get a part-time job, just long enough to balance your budget. If possible, check into working a few overtime hours. Don't let pride come before your fall. Be willing to do whatever it takes (legally and morally) to increase your income.

Fourth, you need to find some new money. There may be some things that you haven't considered that can free up extra money for you on a monthly basis—and they don't involve counterfeiting or working extra jobs. Let me list a few:

* Stop getting a tax refund. "What you talkin' 'bout, Lee?" Why wait until April to get money you should have in your pocket all year-round? If you get a sizeable tax refund, it simply means you let Uncle Sam "hold" your money without paying you interest. That doesn't make good financial sense when that money could have been in an interest-bearing account or paying off debt. If you increase your withholding allowances (consult with your tax adviser first), you may be able to bring home an extra $100 or more on a monthly basis! Of course if you do this, you'll no longer get a big, fat refund check in the mail, but you will see more money each month. (Isn't that what you want?)

* Raise your insurance deductibles. The higher your deductible, the lower your annual and monthly insurance premiums will be. If your deductible is $250, raise it to $500 or even $1,000. This strategy could reduce your annual premium by $100 or more. The downside is that if you happen to have an accident, you'll have to pay more to get your car fixed. On the other hand, if you never have an accident, then you've successfully put more money in your pocket.

* Eliminate your home telephone line. If you get good cell phone reception in your home, you probably don't need a home phone. Even if you have to boost the minutes on your cell phone plan, you could still save $30 to $50 a month.

* Watch those ATM withdrawal fees. If you currently incur ATM withdrawal fees of $1 to $2.50 per transaction, they can add up to hundreds of dollars each year. To avoid these unnecessary fees, limit your withdrawals and only use your bank's ATMs.


CHALLENGE * How do I set up a monthly budget when my income fuctuates? I work on commission, and my income varies from month to month. This makes it hard for me to establish a monthly budget.


SOLUTION * I've been working on commissions for over twenty years, so I know some of the pitfalls firsthand. Living on a budget calls for extreme discipline when your income is commission-based, but it can definitely be achieved. The trick is making your variable income appear to be steady. That means during the prosperous months when the money is rolling in, you can't treat it like a financial windfall! Plan for the future; store up and prepare for the lean months. I call this the Joseph Principle. In Genesis 41:53–56, Joseph saved during the seven years of plenty to survive during the seven years of famine. I know a lot of successful people who have a few big months, and they spend money like there's no tomorrow. Then when tomorrow comes, they've got to beg, borrow, and steal in order to survive.

Here's how a budget can help you avoid this financial pitfall:

* Begin your budget by determining how much you make annually; then divide that by twelve, and that becomes your monthly income. (Don't use wishful thinking; be realistic. Commissioned salespeople are notorious for overstating how much they think they're going to earn.)

* Set up a savings account or money market account, and funnel all of your commissions into it on a monthly basis.

* List your required monthly expenses, and withdraw from the savings/money market account only what you have agreed to live on for each month.

* Adhere to your budget.

* Resist the urge to make large purchases when you have a big month, unless all of your monthly expenditures, including deposits into a savings account, have been met.


CHALLENGE * I am a commissioned salesperson. Unfortunately, since the economic downturn, my entire industry has been affected. As a result, my sales have gone down, and I am not earning the income I used to. It is so bad that my expenses are more than my income! What can I do?


SOLUTION * You can do two primary things (mentioned earlier in the challenge of balancing a budget): (1) reduce your expenses and/or (2) increase your income. Let's look in more detail at these two options. Unfortunately, neither one is easy.

Reducing your expenses sometimes takes a lot of sacrifice. When times are tight, you have to count the cost of your lifestyle. Can you really afford to eat out, buy new clothes, go to the movies, drink expensive coffee, etc.? The first order of business, before you begin to cut your expenses, is to find out where your money is going. This is one of the benefits of creating a budget because it enables you to track everything you spend and get an accurate account of all your expenses.

Next, look for ways to increase your income. Raises are hard to come by these days because most companies have cut their budgets and aren't quite as generous as they used to be. If possible, consider putting in a few more hours. During tough economic times salespeople have to work almost twice as hard and long. And, as mentioned earlier, consider getting a part-time job and keeping it long enough to balance your budget.


CHALLENGE * How can I learn to resist the temptation to spend? I find myself buying things I don't really need, especially when they're on sale!


SOLUTION * Stop buying on impulse. The next time you are at the mall or your favorite store and you get the urge to spend, just don't do it! Instead, go home and ask the Lord whether you should make the purchase. Then take forty-eight hours to think about it. I guarantee you, after forty-eight hours the urge to buy whatever you wanted to buy will go away half of the time or you'll realize there's a bill that needs to be paid!

Spending money on impulse is a difficult habit to break for those who have money and is detrimental for those who don't. If you are spending so much that it's affecting your finances and your family, then you may be a "shopaholic." Sometimes our spending habits are symptomatic of what's going on inside of us and may require counseling to resolve. I've seen people spend because they had low self-esteem, were depressed, or wanted to be accepted by a certain crowd. Whatever the case, make sure that you deal with the root cause of your shopping habits.

CHALLENGE * What's the best way for me to track my spending? I've heard about the envelope system. Can you tell me if it's helpful and how it works?

SOLUTION * Yes, the envelope system is one of the best ways to organize your finances and spend wisely. It may not work for every category of spending you have (since some budgeted items you'll pay by check or with automatic withdrawals), but it works great for tracking categories like food, clothing, gas, entertainment, and miscellaneous expenses. Here's how it works:

* First, you must have a budget in place. Establishing a budget helps to create the categories needed for the envelope system and to determine what amounts of money should be allocated to each category.

* After you've categorized your cash expenses, fill each envelope with the money allocated for it in your budget. For example, if you allow $400 for food, put $400 in cash in your food envelope for the month.

* Once you've spent all the money in a given envelope, you're done spending in that category. If you go on a shopping spree and spend all of the $200 you had allocated for clothing, you can't spend anything else on clothing for the rest of the month. If, for some reason, you decide to spend more than what's allocated for a particular category, you will have to reduce the amount in another category to make up the shortfall. Perfecting the envelope system will take time, but let me tell you—it works!


CHALLENGE * What can I do to ensure that I always make the right financial decisions? I've made a few ill-advised financial moves and could probably make better decisions with a little help, but I'm a very private person when it comes to my finances and don't like for anyone to know my business.


SOLUTION * No one makes all the right financial moves all the time. Even some of the wealthiest people I know have made some bad money decisions from time to time. That's why it helps to have a financial professional to help us make wise decisions.

Most people who make poor financial decisions do so because they did not seek wise counsel before making the decision that got them into trouble. Some people refuse to be swayed from decisions they've already made up their mind to pursue, while others let pride prevent them from seeking advice. As a man, I have to admit that we can be especially prideful when it comes to seeking financial counsel. We don't even ask for directions when we're lost, let alone financial counsel!


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Lee Jenkins on Money by Lee Jenkins. Copyright © 2009 Lee Jenkins. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: How Did I Get Into This Mess?

1. Budgeting and Spending

2. Automobiles

3. Credit

4. Debt

5. Giving

6. Romance and Finance

7. Saving, Investing and Retirement

8. Real Estate and Mortgages

9. Life Insurance and Estate Planning

10. Young Adults and Children

11. Business and Work

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