Investing Financially in 2017

Earlier this week, I reflected on 2016 and looked forward to what God might have in store for me in 2017.  As I looked forward, the word investment kept coming to mind.  I want 2017 to be a year of investment, the year that I invest in the things that I foundationally value.  I want the way that I invest my time and my money to match the things that I proclaim to believe.

In working through this idea of investment this morning, I decided to break it down into 5 categories of investing: investing spiritually, financially, relationally, personally, and professionally.  The things that I foundationally believe in all five of these categories should transform the way that I approach each of them.

Processing through each of these categories is a mighty task, and one that I will be tackling over the coming days and weeks.  Today, I want to take a look at what it looks like to invest financially, and I want take a minute to share a couple of my favorite financial tools as well.

In sorting through these 5 categories, the first question I’ve been asking myself is: what do I believe about this area of my life?

Financially, I believe that:

  • My money is not my own, it is a gift from Jesus.
  • I am called to be a good and responsible steward of the money I have been given.
  • I am called to be generous.
  • Money is an earthly tool, it is not eternal.  It can be used for good, and its value can also be dangerously distorted and used against us.  Scripture speaks all too clearly against coveting wealth.
  • No amount of earning, saving, or spending money will ever satisfy me.

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

 

So if these are my foundational beliefs about money, then my bank statements should reflect these beliefs.  Well, last month I looked to see if that was true.  I printed out just one month of spending, color coded the ish out of it, and looked at where I was really investing my money.

Surprise surprise, the ways that I was actually spending my money did not align with the things I really believe about money.  I think that in the midst of yielding a tool as powerful as a shiny new credit card or a stack of cold hard cash (more realistically a credit card, I don’t think I’ve ever held a stack of cold hard cash), satan tricks me into believing the exact opposite of what I really want to believe.  He whispers in my ear, “you worked hard for this money, you can spend it however you want to.  You should really spend this money on yourself because [XYandZ].  This purchase will satisfy you.”  And I take the bait, despite the truths that I really know, almost every single time.

So if I’m going to approach money differently this year, I need to equip myself to let the truths that I believe transform the way that I use my money.  Equipping ourselves, in every arena, starts with prayer.

Jesus, thank you for blessing me with a job and a salary. Thank you for provision.  I pray that you would walk beside me and guide me as I learn to use my money to glorify You and Your Kingdom.  I pray against satan and his lies, and I pray that you would take ahold of my heart and point it away towards you and away from greed and selfishness.  Amen.

Alright, let’s take a look at some logistical ways to be good stewards of the money we have been given.

Last year I started my first big girl job, set up a big girl budget, and then proceeded to ignore the budget and do whatever I wanted.  Responsible AF.

I think that I really did put a good foot forwards towards budgeting, I just didn’t have the discipline to sustain it, and I was paying way too much for my apartment.  Now in a different (much more affordable) living situation, and a year and a half of salary under my belt, I’m ready to re-evaluate my budgeting.

This is the blog post I wrote last year about budgeting.  I used Nicole Lapin’s Rich Bitch book to guide me, and I still think this book is the most amazing thing.  (If you’re looking for the DIYs on budgeting, start here.)  I reopened this blog post last week, and sat down to reevaluate my budget.  I set up my budget again with the new numbers, and made some changes in my bank accounts to follow.  My bank accounts have been set up as follows:

  • I have three bank accounts: one checking account for scheduled payments, one checking account for “extra” purchases, and one savings account.
  • My Venmo and Paypal accounts are linked to both of these checking accounts, so that I can take money out of the appropriate accounts and don’t have to remind myself to make transfers.
  • I have two credit cards, but I have very limited reasons to use these credit cards.  I think building a credit score is an important thing to do as an adult, but thoughtless spending on credit cards has been my demise.

Scheduled payments from my first checking account include tithing, rent, bills, my car payment, insurance, etc.  There is also cushion in this account for spontaneous giving.  Tithing is first on my list intentionally.  If my money is not my own, if I truly believe that it belongs to Jesus, then giving is uncompromisingly the first thing I should be doing.  The amount that I give and the ways that I give should result in bending my heart towards Jesus and away from myself.

The second bank account is the one that I’m free to use for groceries, gas, and any additional things that I want to spend my money on.  All purchases, with a few exceptions, are being made with the debit card linked to this account.  My credit cards will be used for store specific purchases, and money will immediately be transferred over to cover the charge.

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except for the continuing debt to love one another.”  Romans 13:8

I’ve found some really great apps that I’ve set up to help keep me on track (I am all bout apps rn):

unnamed-1Echo keeps track of prayer requests and sends you reminders to pray at designated times.  Financial giving should be rooted in prayer, and should spur us on towards continued prayer.  I’ve set up reminders in Echo, so that each month when scheduled donations are sent, my phone also reminds me to pray for that specific ministry.  I think that this has the potential to change the way that my heart approaches giving, and will allow me to invest spiritually as well as financially.

intuit_mint_logo_detailMint is a budgeting app that you may already be familiar with.  I’ve had it for a long time, but it was pretty meaningless to me.  Last week, though, I went back into my account, set up the Mint budgets according to my own budgets I should be following, and have been diligent about opening the app and making sure that purchases and charges are being filed under the correct categories.  If used well, this app is bomb.

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Credit Karma gives you free access to your credit scores and gives you insight into why your scores are what they are.  It also shows you all of the balances on your lines of credit.  I’ve learned a lot from it.

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Stash is an investment app that makes it easy to invest your money.  It helps you to set up an investment strategy that’s right for you, and then makes it super easy to sustain.  I’ll be honest, this is a chapter of Rich Bitch that I need to revisit to understand the ins and outs of stocks and mutual funds, but if you’re looking to invest, this is a cool place to start.  If you click this link, you’ll get a free $5 to get started.

These apps have been very helpful so far, and I’m excited to continue using them for as long as they are tools that will lead me towards being a better steward of the gifts I have been given.  If these apps are opened too frequently, or start to sway my heart words the idolatry of earning, saving, or spending money, then they will be gone.

 

As excited as I am for the fresh start of a new year and new ways to invest my money, what I am looking forward to most is this: I want my financial investments to be a springboard for investing my heart.  I am thrilled to be investing in my church, and in the ministries of my friends, and those investments should be propelling me towards thanksgiving and prayer.  Jesus tells us, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” and I want for my treasure to be invested in and to guide my heart towards good, Kingdom worthy, freedom proclaiming things.

 

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