The beginning of a New Year seems like an appropriate time to remind you (and me!) of what this blog is all about. And I can boil it down to just three words: Simple. Meaningful. Success.
But now let me take a few more words to explain.
Money often feels anything but simple. Just thinking about terms like asset allocation, credit utilization, and fiduciary can make you want to flop down on the couch and grab the remote. But hang on.
A central tenet of this blog is to teach simple ways to use money well, and a core route toward simplicity is making money much more objective. Don’t know how much a family like yours can afford to spend on this or that? There’s an answer, and it’s available through this blog.
Of course, my work is about financial success. But financial success alone isn’t enough. Stories of financially successful yet miserable people are a dime a dozen.
What I’m interested in is a brand of financial success that’s deeply satisfying. It’s about connecting our use of money with what makes life meaningful – using money in a way that’s intertwined with our life purpose.
There are many people who have devoted themselves to studying the causes of human happiness, and their findings boil down to three pursuits – three life purposes, common to all of us, that make life meaningful: Living for something bigger than us, building strong relationships, and using our gifts and passions to make a difference.
For me, that “something bigger” is really someone bigger: God. My Christian faith is at the center of my life, and therefore at the center of my work. I find it fascinating, but not surprising, that the three life purposes identified by secular researchers simply echo what the Bible teaches.
As important as my faith is to me, no matter where you stand on spiritual matters, I’m thrilled that you’re part of this community.
Through a ton of study, reflection, and personal trial and error, I’ve come to see that simple, meaningful financial success comes down to 11 core principles.
1 – Know Who You Are. We are not consumers. According to the Bible, we are stewards. However, a term I prefer, also drawn from the Bible, is builders. We have all been entrusted with all that we need to build lives of meaning, purpose, and joy.
2 – Earn Diligently. There’s no such thing as guaranteed employment, but there is such a thing as guaranteed employability.
3 – Plan to Succeed. I’m a huge advocate for the use of a budget. Knowing how much you can spend in each spending category, and then knowing how you can get the absolute most from what you have available for each category, are some key steps to a very good experience with money.
4 – Give Some Away. One of the central ways to find meaning in our use of money is to be generous. That’s because generosity has been woven into the fabric of our spiritual DNA.
5 – Put Some Away. In life, stuff happens. One of the best ways to live in a constant state of preparedness, and to experience a lot of peace of mind, is to have some money in savings.
6 – Ruthlessly Avoid Debt. I’ve lived with debt, and I’ve lived without debt (except a reasonable mortgage). Believe me, living without debt is way better.
7 – Manage Your Number. One section of my live workshops that always draws lots of questions is where I talk about credit reports and scores. This is a topic that’s increasingly important, and still shrouded in lots of mystery. I’ll help demystify the topic.
8 – Patiently Pursue Interest. Investing is the most challenging part of personal finance. I’ll help you find it less challenging by discussing proven strategies for successful investing.
9 – Build Walls of Protection. Beyond keeping some money in reserve, carrying the proper insurance in the proper amounts helps protect against some of the big stuff that can come our way.
10 – Spend Smart on Housing. For most of us, housing is our biggest expense. A big key to a financial situation that works is getting this expense right.
11 – Spend Smart on Everything Else. I don’t care for the term frugality. I prefer spending smart, and there are ways to spend smart on everything from cars to clothes to Caribbean vacations.
There are two other key topics that I have a lot of passion for: money & marriage, and teaching our kids about money, so I’ll address these topics throughout the year as well.
Are You In?
If this is what you’re after in your financial life – simple, meaningful success – you’ve come to the right place.
My one main request of you is that you participate. Tell me what you agree or disagree with, how the topic being discussed has played out in your life, and what else you can contribute to the conversation.
Let’s be in this together. Let’s encourage each other, challenge each other, and celebrate with each other as we learn more about using money to live life to the full. Are you with me?