Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yeah... I'm Braggin'...

I have good reason to brag... not because of something I've done, but because of someone I know!  Amanda & Charles (our daughter and her boyfriend) did something noteworthy yesterday, and I'm honestly proud to know them!

They started cookin' up a storm mid-afternoon, making nine dishes to give to homeless folks in Huntington Beach.  They made chicken, broccoli, and rice, then they packaged them up in an attractive presentation and went driving looking for homeless people who were hungry.  Isn't that great?!!

James 1:27 talks about religious devotion the Father accepts as pure and faultless: "looking after orphans and widows in their distress" and Jesus says in Matthew 25:31-40 that when we feed the hungry, we are feeding him.  My bragging then, is for good reason!  I know those who, in purity of heart, serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords-- even when it seems no one is looking.  How cool is that?!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Always Reconcile Your Credit Card Statement!

Like many Westerners, we make most of our purchases throughout the month on our credit cards to earn points we can use towards vacations, etc.  It's a wise stewardship decision, as long-- and only if-- we pay our credit card statement in full every month.

Troubling Trends
We've noticed over the last couple of years a couple of trends that are very troubling:
  1. Almost every other month we find fraudulent charges on our statements.  These are not due to our carelessness; we are careful to only make online purchases on secure websites and we shred all of our receipts when we're done with them along with all other potential-identity-theft trash.  These fraudulent charges are usually for less than $10, so they'd be easy to miss (think the thieves are doing it that way on purpose?); it's rare to see one for more than $10.
  2. Merchants have begun asking if we want our receipt when we make purchases.  They're probably wanting to be ecologically sensitive or just trying to be courteous, but their question suggests that many say they don't want their receipt!  Without a receipt, how can one verify the charges on their monthly credit card statements?
If we didn't reconcile our monthly statements (the process of matching every charge on our statement with a receipt), we would throw a lot of money into theives' pockets-- money we are trying to manage well.  Is that what you're doing?

My Recommendation

I strongly recommend you get a receipt for every credit card and debit card purchase, and reconcile those receipts against your monthly statements.  Our family averages about 90 receipts per month, and reconciliation takes me 10-15 minutes.  If you make fewer purchases, it'll take you much less time.  And it will save you money when you catch those charges that are wrong or shouldn't be on your statement!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Favorite Mobile Apps

I travel a lot and rely on a number of mobile technologies to help me stay productive while on the road. Whether you travel a lot or not, mobile technology can help you in your personal and professional life.  I just released a brief article for publication that lists my favorite mobile apps... click here to get a free copy in PDF format!