Columns/Opinions

Thu
20
Dec

Consider New Year’s financial resolutions

   It’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions. 
   This year, why not consider some financial ones?
   For starters, increase your contributions to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan. Also, try to put in the maximum amount to your IRA.
   You also might want to build an emergency fund containing three to six months’ worth of living expenses, with the money held in a low-risk, liquid account. 
   This fund can help you avoid dipping into long-term investments to pay for unexpected costs, such as a major car repair.
   Here’s another resolution: Try to control your debts as much as possible. 
   The less you have to pay on your debts, the more you can invest for the future.
   Finally, resolve not to overreact to wild swings in the financial markets. 
   In 2018, we saw a lot of volatility, and it may continue next year – but it doesn’t mean you have to make hasty moves. 

Thu
20
Dec

"Share the gift of God of eternal life through Jesus Christ" by: Betsy Monico

   I witness a lot at school. I am not alone! 
   Most educators silently dream of writing about their daily classroom escapades and retiring early from the earnings of their own bestseller. 
   Teachers mentally store sentimental stories, silly stories, and outrageous stories that no one outside of education would even begin to fathom. 
   We file the experiences in our minds, but truthfully deep inside of our hearts also.  
   My funny tales are too many to recall. 
   I remember the time a kindergarten student brought her teacher a “scratch-off lottery ticket” and asked if she could cash it in and put the money on her lunch account.  
   It was a winner! She bet got her lunch money too. 
   A fellow co-worker recently announced over the loud speaker to our precious janitorial helper that we needed a clean-up in the boy’s bathroom.  

Thu
20
Dec

"This Christmas season reflect on Christ’s joyous message" by: Caleb Gibson

   Winston Churchill once said, “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.” 
   When I reflect on the greatest gifts that Christ gave to us, joy is at the top of the list. 
   After Jesus was beaten, tortured, and killed, He still had joy. 
   After He rose again from the dead, He told His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11-13).  
   Jesus did not live a dull, solemn, and bland life; He was a man of great joy. 
   Why would He say, “my joy I leave with you” if He never laughed or cracked a smile? 
   During the Old Testament, one way an army would overtake a city was to deplete their water supply. 
   Some enemies would take large stones and clog the wells that provided water to that city. 
   The people inside the city would have to go outside to get water and their enemy would attack them. 

Thu
20
Dec

"Reel Reviews: ‘Mortal Engines’ features a fast-paced story" by: Jessica Shepard

   “Mortal Engines” is based on a book by Christian Reeves of the same name and debuted Dec. 14, grossing just over $42 million during its first weekend.
   I haven’t read the book, but I found the overall storyline interesting if only a little confusing in the movie.
   I’m always down for some post-apocalyptic action and seeing Hugo Weaving as the “gentleman” villain is always a plus.
   It’s definitely a teen-centric flick and is rated PG-13 for sequences of futuristic violence and action.
   The film stars Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, and Stephen Lang.
   Following a cataclysmic conflict known as the “Sixty Minute War,” the remnants of humanity regroup and form mobile “predator” cities in vast continental wastelands.

Thu
13
Dec

"Coordinating Christmas celebrations should be Olympic sport" by: Jessica Shepard

   With less than two weeks until Christmas, I hope your plans are going better than mine.
   And I’m not just talking about family plans – suddenly, late Sunday night a few of my friends started to discuss hanging out and celebrating the holiday season together. 
   I honestly didn’t think we’d all get together until next year.
   Everyone has to work either in town, out of town or from their own home-based businesses which makes it rather impossible to coordinate. 
   Plus, a few of us prefer to do comfortable and cozy get-togethers over going out and dealing with crowds of people or hitting a bar together.
   As of now, it’s still up in the air because we can’t pin anything down and agree on it collectively.
   On the family forefront, we’ve managed to get our acts together and at least have Christmas Day festivities handled.
   Any other day, and it’s a test to see if my siblings’ bosses would let them off. 

Thu
13
Dec

"The market mystery: Have we tested, proven a bottom?" by: John Sample

   The last two weeks seem like a trip to Fiesta World in San Antonio and repeatedly riding the Rattler Roller Coaster. 
   Two weeks ago, we climbed over 1200 points only to give back over 110 points last week. 
   Much of that was attributed to China trade talks and the pullback in technology stocks, such as Apple. 
   This week started where last week ended with the Dow dropping over 500 points only to climb to positive territory by day’s end.
   The significance of the recovery is that the S&P 500 stock-index bounced off 2620, which many analysts point to as a significant technical level. 
   Tuesday was positive at the start simply due to the President tweeting that trade talks with China were progressing positively with announcements coming soon. 
   I would say that made me laugh, but I was grateful for any positive favors no matter how absurd.

Thu
13
Dec

What’s smarter – paying off debts or investing?

   If you’re set to receive a year-end bonus or a tax refund in a couple of months, what will you do with this money? 
   Should you invest it or pay off debts?
   If your cash flow is strong, you might want to invest the extra money. 
   But if you are just getting by, possibly due to high-interest loans, you might be better off reducing your debt load. 
   For the future, you might be able to help control your debts by building an emergency fund, with the money held in a liquid account, to pay for unexpected costs.
   You’ll also want to evaluate which debts to tackle first. 
   Instead of making extra mortgage payments, you might want to pay down high-rate consumer loans whose interest cannot be deducted from your taxes.
   If you can invest your extra money, look for timely opportunities. 
   For instance, you have until April 15, 2019, to fully fund your IRA for the 2018 tax year.

Thu
13
Dec

"Make reading the announcement of Jesus’ birth your tradition" by: Betsy Monico

   If you find yourself in need of a conversation starter during this holiday season and lack the necessary creative juices to come up with one - just roll with “What are your holiday traditions?” 
   This question always opens up a can of worms! 
   It brings to mind what customs we grew up with, what we do now, and what we would love to do with our people in the future. 
   I personally always liked the idea of hiding a pickle in the tree. Whoever finds the pickle ornament gets a prize. 
   I have no clue where I even heard this and never have managed to implement it. Perhaps next year? 
   Years ago, a dear woman in town introduced many of us to the “Jesse Tree.” I am forever grateful that she did. 
   When my kids were younger and life was crazy, “Jesse Tree” devotionals and ornaments kept us focused on Jesus during the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

Thu
13
Dec

"Use the right ingredients in the study of the Bible stories" by: Caleb Gibson

   What is your favorite part about Christmas? One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the sweets. 
   Our family has an old Betty Crocker cook book: the pages are barely hanging on the cover, the paper is faded, and some of it is torn. 
   If Indiana Jones saw it, he would say, “It belongs in a museum.” Despite all of this, it contains one of my favorite sugar cookie recipe. 
   Now what does it take to make a great sugar cookie? 
   The right ingredients! 
   In the same way, there are right ingredients to studying the Bible. I want to look at five.
   The first ingredient that we need is prayer. 
   Jesus was a man who prayed a lot. Many times, before the Disciples would wake up, He would have a time of prayer and what we call a quiet time with God. 
   We should read the Bible not because we feel guilty but because we are hungry. 

Thu
13
Dec

"Reel Reviews: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ tells story of Freddy Mercury’s career as singer for Queen" by: Jessica Shepard

   Since its debut Nov. 2, I’ve been wanting to see “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
   Partly because I’m a diehard fan of Freddie Mercury and Queen and because I wanted to see how well the casting director made in their choices.
   The film has grossed over $596 million and is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content, and language.
   Marketed as a “biographical film about the British rock band Queen,” I found it to be so much more than that.
      And granted, there are some historical inaccuracies in the film, overall I loved it and thoroughly enjoyed every last moment of the two hours and 15 minutes movie.
   The film is directed by Bryan Singer, it is written by Anthony McCarten, and produced by Graham King and former Queen manager Jim Beach. 

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