Columns/Opinions

Thu
20
Jun

"Which side of the fence do you find yourself on?" by: John Sample

   The Dow climbed to levels not seen since early May and the other indexes also rose to near-record levels as well. 
   I see many hurdles rising in the next several months. 
   We are quickly wrapping up the second quarter and most projections are for the GDP to drop from above 3% to just over 1%. 
   With the U.S. economy driven by consumers - 70% of the economy - maybe all the so-called experts will be wrong again. 
   That wouldn’t surprise me, but every week the reports on the economy are increasingly worse. 
   As optimistic as I try to be, it seems the inevitable is coming. What may be debated though, is the degree.
   While that captures the news feed, there is much to consider that all is not lost. This week, Facebook announced its new crypto currency, Libra. 
   This crypto will be backed by dollars and is a means to facilitate transactions - another step forward bypassing credit cards. 

Thu
20
Jun

Smart financial moves for ‘gig’ economy workers

   Do you work as an independent contractor, a contract worker, a consultant or a freelancer? 
   If so, you’re part of what’s known as the “gig” economy – and you may need to make some extra moves to help reach your financial goals.
For starters, you need to set up your own retirement plan. 
   Fortunately, you have several to choose from, possibly including a SEP-IRA and a “solo” 401(k), which works much like an employer-sponsored 401(k).
   Also, since your income may be uneven or unpredictable, you’ll need an emergency fund to pay for unexpected costs, such as a major car repair. 
   Keep this money in a liquid, low-risk account.
One more suggestion: Make sure you have adequate insurance to protect your family and your livelihood. 
   A financial professional can help you determine the types of coverage you might need.

Thu
20
Jun

"Finding delight in the Lord surely will bring delight in your heart" by: Betsy Monico

      Since this column goes to several papers, I feel the need to explain what the “county fair” means to non-Freestone County residents.  
   Since I was a little girl, two “seasons” of the calendar year get me excited, one being Christmas and the other being fair week. (Side note - adulthood was when I made Thanksgiving my all-time favorite “season” of the year, and the other two moved down in the line-up.) 
   However, I have been absolutely consumed by our local fair festivities for the past week.  
   Now that it is over, I need to be consumed with getting my schedule back on track!  
   Our county fair begins on Monday evening with the parade. The past few years, I have gladly been a spectator.  
   Over the years though, I have ridden on cheerleading floats, 4-wheelers, baseball floats, and even sported my own decorated red, white, and blue bicycle.  

Thu
20
Jun

"Like the cities of old, Jesus is our city of refuge" by: Caleb Gibson

   In 2005, Marcus Luttrell is a Navy Seal serving in the Middle East. He is a part of a group of four Navy Seals sent into the mountains in search of a dangerous Taliban leader.  
   During their secret mission they encounter goat herders who are likely connected to the Taliban. What should they do? Three of them voted and the final vote then was left to Luttrell who voted to let them go.  
   Within just a few hours, dozens of Taliban soldiers show up in the mountains, no doubt sent there by the goatherds. They fight back, killing many Taliban soldiers, but they’re so badly outnumbered that they have no choice but to retreat, jumping down the side of the mountain again and again.  
   In the conflict, Luttrell’s three fellow Seal are murdered. He is the lone survivor. 
   Lutrell limped to a pool of water, wounded and with shrapnel in his leg. A villager named Mohammed Gulab found him, took him back to his village and gave him food and shelter.  

Thu
20
Jun

"Reel Reviews: ‘Men In Black: International’ features all-star cast, stiff ‘buddy cop’ feel" by: Jessica Shepard

   Men In Black: International (MIB) had a good plot and all-star cast, but it lacked the same chemistry we’ve come to love and expect as its predecessors.
   There’s just something nearly iconic with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones teaming up as “buddy cops” to police alien activity on planet Earth that this film lacks.
   The film is sailing at the top of the box office worldwide and has raked in over $103 million dollars.
   Men in Black: International is a science fiction action comedy film directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. 
   The movie is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action, some language, and suggestive material.
   It is a spin-off of the Men in Black film series, which is loosely based on the Malibu/Marvel comics of the same name by Lowell Cunningham. 

Thu
13
Jun

"Noticing history repeats itself when it comes to fashion trends" by: Jessica Shepard

   Isn’t it funny how history seems to repeat itself?
   And no, I’m not talking about political arenas or anything like that.
   I’m leaning more towards fashion and pop culture mostly because that’s what I have noticed and find it easy enough to point out. So, maybe it’s just me being picky a little bit, too. 
   I’ve noticed how trends keep being recycled and marketed as the “hot-new” thing and the resurgence of 1990s fashion choices.
   Don’t get me wrong, I’m really a fan of 90s fashion where “grunge” looks are making a comeback but the onslaught of floral-patterned everything makes me feel like I’m smothered by my grandmother’s closet.
   Graphic T-shirts are making a comeback featuring lots of pop culture references to animated movies or shows and other style icons like Lisa Frank, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Thu
13
Jun

"Are you going to be able to adapt to changing world?" by: John Sample

   What a change a week makes The Dow has climbed 1300 points in six trading days climbing back over 26,000 while the S&P 500 stock-index is almost at 2900.
   A week ago, analysts were pointing to the 200-day trading average and levels in indexes and averages if broken could lead to significant declines.
   Just in time, Jay Powell steps up to mike and indicates that the Fed could look at lowering the fed funds rate this year.
   He didn’t say they would, but he is so far from where he was six months ago that the market fell all over it self-celebrating.
   If that wasn’t enough, the President’s threat of a tariff on Mexico was pulled back due to negotiations over immigration.
   You must appreciate that all this recovery came with little or no help from the FANG stocks.
   They likely will find favor, sending these indexes and averages even higher.

Thu
13
Jun

Father’s Day: Tools great for Father’s Day – and for investors

   It’s almost Father’s Day – time for dads everywhere to receive new tools as gifts. 
   But you don’t have to be a father to benefit from the skills used for home repairs. 
   These same abilities could be applied to other parts of your life – such as investing.
   For example, when you’re starting a home improvement task, you need to assemble the right tools and materials. 
   The same is true when you’re launching a financial project, such as saving for retirement – except, in this case, the tools and materials you need are the right investments and long-term strategy to meet your goals and risk tolerance.
   Also, when you build things, you’ll want to analyze your finished project periodically, to make sure it’s holding up well. 
   As an investor, you should review your financial strategy at least once a year to ensure it still meets your needs.
    And you may need to adjust it to accommodate changes in your life.

Thu
13
Jun

"When a storm approaches, we should run straight to Jesus" by: Betsy Monico

   My current situation is this: riding out the storm with a dog by my side, watching the river in my backyard, and somewhat enjoying the basics of life without electricity.   
   I just yelled for my oldest son to come in the living room. I blamed it on the dog saying, “Bubs will not be as nervous if you come in here.”   
   Truth be told, I needed some company and help.  
   I don’t think I have shared our big news yet, but have announced it in other arenas of life.   
   We have a “Grand-dog.” His name is Otis. He is a tiny thing with a big personality.   
   My daughter saved him from a crowded yard full of big dogs the day she moved home from Abilene. Go figure!    
   We pick berries daily together. Unlike his OCD mother, I also allow him to roll in things, dig in the dirt, and have fun.   
   Otis has given me an idea of what I will be like as a “Grandmother.” I hate to brag, but I will be great.   

Thu
13
Jun

"Where Tower of Babel once divided people, Holy Spirit now unites us" by: Caleb Gibson

   Every story has a backstory. You can’t have E.T. without the bicycle.   
   You can’t have the titanic without the Iceberg.   
   And you can’t have Spiderman without the death of Uncle Ben and his wise words, “With great power comes great responsibility.”   
   Last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, it is the reminder of how the Holy Spirit fell on the believers.   
   The backstory to the day of Pentecost is the tower of Babel.   
   After the flood God told the people to, “increase in number and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). 
   The people decided to do the opposite.   
   Instead they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).   
   Their goal was not to make the name of God great; it was to make a name for themselves. There was a problem with their motive. 

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