Financial Education Resources

Recent ACP Member Blogs

  • This quarter is dedicated to exploring the topic of charity and the many ways we express it in our lives. But charitable actions are not something reserved for a certain time of year, rather the spirit of giving needs to transcend this quarter into finding a place in our hearts and minds each day. I’ve been thinking a lot about what charity means in my own life which lead me to explore the origins of the word “charity” and discover how it had been interpreted in the past. The Latin translation struck a particular chord with me. Caritatum is the Latin word for charity and in the Vulgate (the Latin Bible) it is used as a translation of the most powerful type of love in Ancient Greece, agape. Agape is love in its highest manifestation because it centers on respect and care for others, seeking the best for them unconditionally. This is a powerful view of charity because it stretches beyond our typical worldview of charitable efforts. While monetary support is an excellent and important component of charitable giving, it is not the only one. The giving of ourselves for the greater good, that is what charity is all about. Today, I’d like to explore a few ways that you can adopt a new dimension into your charitable efforts: your time. Beyond the financesGiving money in support of your church or local charity is an important part of your financial life. It helps the organization run and strengthens its own outreach efforts, allowing them to continue the good work they do. But there is more to giving than finances, the non-tangible side. As we learned from above, giving isn’t about money it is about people. We give in order to offer support to the people around us and that can be done in so many ways that aren’t financial. You can give your time, talents, and attention to a cause that is most important to you. Now, many people think of donating their time and energy during the holidays, whether it be serving food on Thanksgiving or spending part of Christmas day at the soup kitchen. And while these efforts are incredible, it is important to find ways to extend your giving beyond the holidays and one way to do that is using your gifts and talents to help others. You have a unique set of skills that can be beneficial to the community at large. Perhaps you have a strong financial background, you might consider joining the financial board of your church. Or maybe you are a gifted musician. You can use this gift in weekly services or in volunteer programs that bring music to nursing homes or other care facilities. Be proactive in finding where the need is and then use your skills to help fill that need. You can also be vigilant about saying yes to upcoming opportunities. You might find out that your church or community are all volunteering for a building project. Take the opportunity to help others through volunteer work and fellowship with your community at large. Charitable giving is about making connections with the people in your life. Drawing closer to your community is a wonderful way to collectively be apart of something bigger than yourselves. Impact-focused lifeWhat is the driving force of your life? Woah, you probably weren’t expecting such a deep question reading this financial blog, but the answers that come from exploring this question set the tone for the way you want to live your life and how your finances can support that vision. Increasing your charitable efforts is a great way to live a more impact-focused life. You may not always be in a position to offer financial support the way you want to, but that doesn’t mean your efforts need to stop. Use your passions to help those around you and that dedication will make a positive impact on your life and the community at large. Being charitable really means giving of our time and talents freely, without reservation, expectation, or desire for reciprocation. That is what it really means to honor and love ourselves and the community. Here at Step by Step, we are dedicated to working with people who want to make a positive impact in their home and their community. We would love to talk with you about incorporating charitable giving into your financial plan.
  • As your income increases your tax rate increases. In addition to increases in your tax rate, retirees incur three additional taxes/expenses when they reach certain income thresholds. These include taxation on a larger portion of your Social Security benefit, the 3.8 percent Medicare surtax on net investment income and an increase in Medicare premiums.
  • Kiplinger.com offered advice for married women who may need to do some retirement planning, mentioning this “sobering reality” “Most widows feel unprepared to make key financial decisions in their live-alone years.” While it isn’t pleasant to think about death, married people do have to consider they may need to continue without a spouse: not [] ©Bring Clarity to Your Finances™. Married? Get into Retirement Planning Before Losing a Spouse is a post from Bring Clarity to Your Finances™
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  • Credit cards can be a very handy tool to have in your toolbox, but when misused, can inflict significant damage. Depending on your spending habits and intended use for the card, one card may be more beneficial to own than another.