Our previous blog post article came from guest blogger Tom Hughes called 8 Financial principles for pastors. I was blessed by the article. Tom's words reminded me where I was on track financially (i.e. tithing) and where I have room for growth (i.e. investing).
Here are my take aways:
The article gave me permission to be "ruthlessly committed to my financial freedom." For me, this means re-evaluating my personal finances and how my family spends. From the viewpoint of many Americans my wife and I are in a great spot financially. We tithe, we have no debt, we invest long term in a Roth IRA, we invest in my wife's 401 (k) that her company matches dollar-for-dollar (up to a %), we invest in a joint 529 college savings plan for our kids, we have a general savings account for emergencies as well as a Christmas savings account--the latter being crucial for this time of year. We also make enough money that our kids can pursue sports, take music lessons, swim lessons, and participate in the local Ballet company. All that said, I know I can be more disciplined with the family money (my wife and I's income).
But where to start?
I'm going to start by re-evaluating our spending in general. One of Tom's principles was, "Start [investing] now, no matter how small the investment." Given that some of his other principles dealt with our rational/spiritual approach to investing (i.e. "Don't invest in what you don't understand"), I think Tom was encouraging us to invest on our own--apart from a professional Brokerage Account (though he was by no means saying we shouldn't use professional investing firms). This terrifies me.
I'm a pastor and entrepreneur with little-to-no experience with stocks and financial markets. However, this does not get me off the hook. I think it's time for me to be even wiser with my money and become more educated about personal investing (read books, find mentors, etc). This starts be re-evaluating my family budget (I recommend Mint.com for family budgeting), evaluating what's happening with our 401(k), our Roth IRA, and how much we are putting into our kids 529 college savings account. Are our percentages on track for a healthy future? Then I'm going to see how much money we can free up from the family budget so we can invest more in our future.
Last, I'm going to listen to that "still small voice" (1 Kings 19.12) and glean where and when God wants me to do some sacrificial giving beyond my tithe. I want to, "experience the joy of kingdom giving," as Tom said.
Tom's article was a call to deeper levels of maturity. Growth (spiritually & financially), it's a kingdom concept. I look forward to my continued maturation process.
If you want to analyze your investment strategy (i.e. investing in your retirement vs college savings for kids) check out How to Rank Your Investments: Your Financial Pyramid by Farnoosh Torabi. **note: she does not speak about personal investing on your own. Enjoy your journey!