How long is this Bull Market going to last?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently hit a historic high — again! From a March 6, 2009, low of 6,624 during the Great Recession, in six years it has skyrocketed to more than 18,000. Investors are asking themselves, “How long will this Bull Market last?”

Normally, what drives the stock market higher are increasing earnings, and the Fed lowering interest rates, which makes it cheaper for companies to borrow money and make more profit.

However, this time around the stock market has been fueled by a Fed on steroids. It has dramatically reduced interest rates to almost zero. While the government has increased our Federal debt in just six years from $10.6 trillion to more than $18 trillion – that’s a 70% increase!

To help us gain perspective, it took us 205 years (74,984 days from Independence Day on July, 4, 1776 to October 22, 1981) to incur our first trillion dollars of Federal debt. We took on our last trillion dollars of debt in about 365 days.

How long is this Bull Market going to last and how is it going to end? I don’t know. But what is driving the market clearly is not sustainable.

I do know that the Lord warns us of the dangers of debt. “The borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). I can’t encourage you strongly enough to learn how to handle money God’s way. And that means to be generous, save, spend wisely and get out of debt!

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Now the real scoop of what’s happening in the Ukraine

Anatoliy and his young family live in Kiev, Ukraine. He serves as the Compass Russian and Ukrainian Director and has had a massive impact serving this part of the world. Before joining us he was an English teacher and is fluent in Ukrainian, Russian and English.

I was with Anatoliy about a month ago, and he told me, “Many serious followers of Christ in the Ukraine had been praying for a spiritual revival and an end to corruption in our country. What we didn’t realize was that it would mean an invasion and war with neighboring Russia. Yes, please pray for the safety of God’s people here, but more than that . . . pray that revival would sweep our land.”

Will you join us in praying for many to come to know Christ in Ukraine and Russia, and for our Heavenly Father to protect Anatoliy and his family? May we have the courage to pray for revival in our land no matter what the cost.

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5 Things to Remember When Buying a Used Car

Listeners to our MoneyWise radio program often ask us about the best way to buy a used car. How much should they pay? How can they be sure that it’s in good running order and won’t have any major problems?

There are 5 things to remember when making a used car purchase:

First, do your homework and decide on the make and model of cars that will meet your needs. For example, a family of six is going to need a very different vehicle than a single person.

Second, visit www.Edmunds.com to get a good idea of the sales prices of the used cars that you’re considering.

Then, Google the make and models of these cars with the word “problem”, and you’ll soon see if there are recurring problems with any of the cars.

Next, remember to check out some online reviews on the dealership from whom you are considering buying the vehicle. Small used car dealerships often get their inventory from car auctions. These vehicles may appear to be in good running condition, but may also have costly problems that you will be dealing with after purchasing the car and driving it off the lot.

Which brings me to my last point……..before you pay for a car, have a reliable mechanic check it out for problems. This is super important! That’s why we are so thankful for our auto mechanic, Slim. He’s been repairing our type of car for more than two decades and . . . Slim is really HONEST! I’d never consider buying a used car without Slim going over it carefully and giving me the thumbs up to go ahead and purchase it.

And if you don’t know an auto mechanic like Slim, ask the Lord to help you find just the right one. Then ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations until you find a mechanic that you feel is fair and credible.

Following these simple guidelines will help ensure you a positive experience when looking to purchase a used car!

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Unity Among Ministries

I’ll never forget the time that Larry Burkett met with us in 2000 to discuss merging ministries. He stood up, held his outstretched clenched fists, and said, “My greatest fear in life is to stand before Christ and hear Him say, ‘Larry, I had so much more for you and your ministry, but you held on too tightly.’”

Then Larry smiled. He opened his hands and declared, “I’m not holding on to the ministry, let’s merge!”

Larry understood that there should be no competition among churches or ministries. I love what Psalm 133:1 tells us, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.”

I participated along with Ron Blue in a wonderful event last November in Nashville that was geared toward helping churches recapture the biblical meaning of stewardship – hosted by Dave Ramsey. Think about this for a moment. The world would never consider helping a competitor secure more market share. But in God’s kingdom, what’s important is working together with other followers of Christ to accomplish what’s on the Lord heart. In this case, it’s helping God’s people learn how to handle money His way.

Attached is a picture of the three of us along with two terrific servants of Christ – Brad Jack (the Compass Texas Director) and James Walden (the Compass Arkansas Director).

Psalm 133:1 is true: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.” There is such a sense of freedom and even joy when we help and encourage one another serving in the same space. Join me in praying that the Lord will continue to bless Dave Ramsey and Ron Blue as they help people learn God’s way of handling money.

Warmly in Christ,

Howard Dayton

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How many Credit Cards should you have?

Will you be putting this on your store card today?  Oh, you don’t have one?  Well, if you apply for one today, we can give you $50 off your purchase! Well, if you’ve ever been shopping, I’m guessing that sales pitch sounds familiar. But are department store cards a smart way to save money … or are they a bad idea?

Most of us know someone who has more credit cards than Baskin Robins has ice cream flavors. But 3 out of 10 adults don’t have a credit card, and the average is 2.6 per person which is the lowest number is decades.

Branded retail credit cards can save you money on your purchase when you apply, and often there are other discounts or rewards. So, are retail cards a smart way to save money? No, I don’t recommend them. They are a marketing tool by retailers who also make a lot of money on the interest they charge customers who carry a balance. You’re also more likely to be a victim of identity theft if you have lots of cards.

My suggestion: perform some plastic surgery! Any scissors will do the job!

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Explaining Financial lingo

Financial lingo can sometimes sound like a foreign language. What are indexed annuities? What is an amortization schedule? How ’bout a no-load fund? Well, if you sometimes hear financial terms and you don’t quite know what they all mean, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s look some common financial terms.

What are large cap stocks and small cap stocks? What does all that “cap” stuff mean? Cap is short for capitalization which simply is the total value of the company’s shares. Large cap stocks have a market value of $5 billion or more, and small caps have market values of between $50 and $500 million.

What’s a mutual fund, and how does that differ from simply buying a stock? A mutual fund typically holds ownership in maybe hundreds of different companies. If you buy a stock, you buy ownership in just one company.

What is a growth stock mutual fund? It’s a mutual fund where the primary objective is appreciation of the stocks it holds.  It may not payout much of a dividend.

What’s definition of an IRA and a Roth IRA, and what is the difference? They are Individual Retirement Accounts that are tax advantaged and both grow tax free.  When you invest in an IRA you get a tax deduction on what you put in, and you pay taxes on what you take out. With the Roth IRA, you don’t get a tax deduction on what you put in, but what you take out is tax free.

What’s an amortization schedule? An amortization schedule is simply a loan repayment schedule for a real estate mortgage.

What is a will, and what’s a trust? What’s the difference between the two? Both wills and trusts name one or more people to manage an estate and direct how the assets are to be distributed. The biggest difference is that a trust does not have to go thru probate.

Learn and understand these terms and you will have passed your first test in Financial lingo 101!

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Its Groundhog Day!

Well happy February 2, or as many of us know it—Groundhog Day. The day when a furry critter with big yellow teeth prognosticates how much winter we have left.  According to folklore, since 1886 when Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his burrow, if it’s cloudy today then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will persist for six more weeks. So, how does this apply to your finances you ask???

Well, a shadow is what you have when light is blocked by an opaque object. We should want God’s light to illuminate in each area of our lives . . . yes, including our finances.

When it comes to handling money the best source of light is the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

And I love what Psalm 119:24 says, “Your laws are both my light and my counselor.” So, if we want to understand with clarity – no shadows that will mess up my thinking – learn what the Bible says about handling money. And it says a lot. In the Bible there are more than 2,350 verses dealing with money and possessions.

Hebrews 4:12 reveals that God’s Spirit can make the Bible real to each of us in a personal way.  It says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Isn’t that fantastic! God, through His word can speak to each of us as individuals, so we can know what the Lord of the universe wants us to do with the resources He entrusts to us.

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