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Great Money Milestones

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 12, 2021 2:00 am

Great Money Milestones

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 12, 2021 2:00 am

Our purse strings are tied to our heart strings. Financial advisor Art Rainer encourages believers to showcase the generosity of God by giving generously to those in need. Rainer lists eight money milestones couples can aim for that can help them get their finances and their giving on track.

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Have you set certain goals for yourself in the area of finances? There are some good reasons to do that, but Art Rainer says for a lot of people, that can have us focused on the wrong objective. As believers, we're motivated by something entirely different than momentary satisfaction, something entirely different than just simply making sure that you have the newest and best car and upgraded home.

Not that those things are bad in and of themselves, but if they become the motivation, you're going to find yourself discontent, you're going to find yourself frustrated, and because they're never going to deliver on the supposed promise that they make. This is Family Life Today. Our hosts are David and Anne Wilson.

I'm Bob Lapine. There are biblical ways to think about money, and there are worldly ways to think about your finances. We'll talk about the difference between those two approaches today. Stay with us. And welcome to Family Life Today.

Thanks for joining us. Do you think the average young couple in most local churches today is headed in a good direction when it comes to money, or do you think they're headed in a direction that's going to cause problems for them later? Boy, oh, boy, Bob, that's a loaded question.

I would say it all depends. My first thought was, boy, a lot of them are probably headed in not a good direction. But yet then I think there's quite a few that have really been, I think in some ways because of 2008 and 2009, have seen the devastation money can have. They've said, I've got to have a plan. So that's encouraging. I think the thing that I feel bad about for these kids coming out of college is the amount of college debt that they have from school loans. And it's devastating. And I feel there's a sense of hopelessness.

Can I ever get out of this? Yeah, I think the average young couple where they're starting today is different than where we started because I didn't start with student loans. But if you're starting today and you've got $40,000 in student loans and you're trying to buy a house or you're trying to have a child or you're trying to do this and that, you're just starting with a bigger burden already in it. It's interesting to me, we're talking with Art Rainer this week who wrote a book called The Marriage Challenge and Art, welcome back.

Thank you for having me. So you work at an institution of higher learning and I'm guessing that more than one or two of the students there are taking out student loans so that they can get a seminary degree. We're passionate about trying to keep our tuition down and our costs as low as possible.

So we're a seminary, which means that we're sending out ministers, pastors, missionaries, not just in our own state and nation, but literally around the world. And so because of that, making sure that our students don't take on student loan debt. We can't completely prevent them, but we can do everything in our power to reduce the likelihood of them getting student loans because if they have student loans, then their ability to say go overseas and be on a mission field diminishes dramatically.

And so what we want to do is we want to obviously prevent that burden from happening as much as possible, but across the nation, it is absolutely a problem. I think we're at $1.5 trillion right now in student loan debt as a nation. You're right, college students, they're graduating with a ton of debt and likely they're entering marriages with a lot of debt. By the way, we've got one of your graduates on our staff at our church. He's a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest and he has no debt owed to Southeastern. He still has undergraduate debt that he's paying off, but he was able to get through seminary in large part because you've made this a priority there to try to help these young men and young women who are going to the seminary not incur debt because you know that's going to encumber them as they try to do what they're studying to do. It's mission critical for our school. What about you, Bob? I was thinking about there's the parent side of this school debt as well. When you're a parent, you're trying to help alleviate that for your kids.

What did you do with yours, Bob? So here was what we did. We tried to set aside money so that our kids could get a basic college education, maybe two years of community college, and finish up at a state school. We'd have enough money to kind of cover that. If they wanted to go somewhere bigger, better, nicer, they'd either raise the money themselves or they'd get scholarships to be able to do it. And by God's grace, none of our kids graduated with student debt and they look to us today and say thank you so much because they're looking at their peers and they recognize what a head start they've got in life and the choices and the options that are available to them that their peers can't even consider because they don't have the school debt issue. And I recognize, you know, some families can't put aside the money to save for two years of community college. But I would say to those families, let's help your son or daughter figure out how the part-time job and a work study, something, do everything you can to try to fight going into $30,000 in debt per year for your kid to go to some elite school.

That's my predisposition. I think, too, a lot of times as parents, we don't pray about this. With college, we started praying because we were in ministry from the time we got married. We weren't making much money. And we thought, how are we going to do this with our kids? And God provided in miraculous ways. But part of that, too, was talking to our kids about this college costs this much where this college costs this much.

And we would kind of, you know, you can go where you want, but we're kind of leaning, helping them lean toward the cheaper end. But they were really wise in that, too. And the same with our kids. By God's grace, they didn't have any school debt out of college as well.

Yeah. You're talking not to the moms and dads in this book, The Married Challenge. You're talking to the kids who are the ones who are graduating, getting married, and have some of this debt.

And they're thinking, how do I get from where I am today? We owe the school a bunch of money. We're trying to put down a down payment on a house. We're trying to start a family and all of this. How do we ever get to where we're solvent? We can't even think about setting aside money for our own kids' education.

We haven't paid for ours yet. And you've got a pathway in the book, The Married Challenge, and most people are stunned at where you start. The first step in your journey to getting financially solvent is what? Start giving. Okay, everybody hear that?

Milestone one. If you are trying to get solvent and you've got a lot of money that you owe people and you're trying to get, start giving. Start giving.

And this is not an Art Rainer thing. It's a Bible thing. As we read about the Bible and money and money management, we see that giving is to be our priority. We talked earlier that Adam and Eve must have taught this to their kids, Cain and Abel.

Why is that important? Does God need our money? No, God does not need our money.

He's just fine. He doesn't need our tithe to accomplish his mission. It's because it's a reflection of our heart. When the scripture talks about money, it's often tied to our heart. It's a reflection of our priorities.

And stop and think about this. We're to share the communicable attributes of God. As followers of Christ, we want to be like God. So, God is loving, we want to be loving. God is gracious, we want to be gracious.

Guess what? God is giving. The givingness of God.

God so loved the world, what did he do? He gave. The givingness of God is one of his communicable attributes. You can't be Christ-like and not be giving. Am I right?

You're absolutely right. And I'd like to showcase the generosity of God by simply walking through the principles of giving that we find in scripture. First of all, giving is to be a priority. Proverbs 39, among other places that we're to give our first and our best.

What that means for us is take a portion of our gross income, so before taxes, and commit that to God. Principle number two is to make sure that giving is done proportionately. Now, what I mean by proportionally is that those who have more give more. Those who have less give less. We give according to what God has given us. We see that throughout scripture. You can point to Malachi 3, 10, where it talks about taking a tenth and giving that to the storehouse or to the local church.

I don't want to get hung up on that 10%, but it is a proportion of what we have been given. Principle number three is to give sacrificially. Giving sometimes is going to hurt, or actually should hurt, if we follow what we see in scripture.

It's not always comfortable. It's not about the leftovers. And so, if you're making giving a priority, meaning that you're using the first thing that you do with your money is give, it's going to be sacrificial. And then finally, giving is to be done cheerfully. God loves a cheerful giver. And so, as we look at those four principles, we see God leading us in each of them.

So, principle number one, giving is to be a priority. Where do we see that? Well, God gave his first and his best, his one and his only son, Jesus. Giving is to be done proportionally.

Where do we see that? Well, God, who owns everything, the creator of the sun, the moon, the stars, gave us the gift that simply could not be matched, the largest gift that's ever been known. So, he gave proportionally. We're to give sacrificially. How does God lead us in that? Maybe a little bit more self-explanatory in the sacrifice of Jesus.

And then, we're to give cheerfully. That's actually found in Isaiah 53, 10, where we see God finding pleasure in the crushing of his own son. It says that he found pleasure in that. Now, of course, you have to ask the question, why or how?

How can that happen? Well, God was looking through the lens of eternity and he saw the outcome. Isaiah 53, 10 says that he looked at the seed, he looked at me and you and what the outcome would be because of the sacrifice of his son. So, even in the midst of sacrifice, we can still find joy because we're looking through the lens of eternity and we're seeing that, okay, what will happen with these resources?

God is going to take these resources and do things and impact lives in ways that we simply cannot and may not even know until we're on the other side of eternity. I was talking with our church about this recently and I said, not that the way we've done it is the way everybody should do it, but I just said, let me just share with you what has been our pattern. So, when I first came to faith, somebody said, you know, you should start giving. And I wasn't a member of a local church at that point, but I was involved in a parachurch organization, so I started giving to the parachurch organization. And then when I got involved in a local church, that's where my primary giving goes, to the local church.

That's still the case today. And when Marianne and I got married, it was just a pattern that both of us had. Now, early on, we said, here's what we're going to try to do. We're going to take our gross income every month and we'll give 10% off the net to our local church and then we'll take whatever the difference between the net and the gross is and 10% of that's going to go to parachurch organizations. And we'll be at at least 10.

And it's not that 10's a magic number, like you said, but it's a good place to start. And it was the first check we wrote every month. It wasn't, let's get to the end and see how much we got left.

No, that's gone first and then we live out of the rest, right? And then I said, over time, we've said, let's try to give more proportionally next year than we gave last year. So that every year, if it was 10 last year, let's try to be 10 and a half this year. And let's try to be 11 the year after that. And let's just try to work our way up a little bit every year. You're close to 100% by now.

Sometimes it's a quarter percent that we go up. But you're always saying, how can we give more next year rather than how can we cut back? That philosophy, I can't tell you that the reason my kids went to college without having to take out student loans is because we gave. I mean, I'm not trying to be all, you know, if you do this, God's going to work the magic out for you. But I do believe that when you start with that presupposition and you say generosity is going to drive us and we love doing it and we look forward to doing it, I think God has a way of saying, you know what, I can trust you with more.

I can take care of some of these things for you. And it really doesn't make sense to most people looking from the outside, the secular world. Like, that's stupid. Why would you guys do that? I know for Dave and I, we've seen those same circumstances where we've given above our 10% maybe for a capital campaign for our church. And I remember praying like, Lord, Dave's saying, hey, we really need to pray about this amount. And when we gave, it seemed ridiculous, didn't it? Remember, like we were like, this is dumb.

It seems dumb. Yeah, it was one of those go to God. And, you know, interesting thing is the pastor, you're asking your whole congregation to do this.

And yet you've got to lead. So it was go to God. And it was a capital campaign for a building mostly. And we felt like God gave us a number that would be equal to our one of our son's college education. Wow. And we said, this is crazy.

Like Ann said, this is stupid. We committed it in less than six months later. And we're not saying there's an equation here, but that son got a full scholarship in athletics to play football. And it was like, and he still holds that over our head, by the way. He tells us, so we owe him that money. He says, I'm not kidding, almost monthly, he'll bring that up. Where's that money?

It's gone. But let me ask you this, because you both mentioned that tied number. Just to clarify it, you know, what would you say?

There's a couple listening and they're thinking we want to start doing what Bob and David and Art have just talked about. We've never given. And milestone number one is be generous. Let's be generous. They've never done this.

Where did they start? Well, I think 10 percent is a great goal to get to. If you have not given and you're just reluctant to doing so, start with at least one percent. Start, I always say start somewhere and then watch what God does. More than likely, if it's one percent, you're going to realize, OK, well, that actually was not that much money.

And I can give a little bit more. Start somewhere, start with that one percent. And then, and I include this in the marriage challenge, it's called the take off. And it takes you to months four and seven. OK, go to three percent, then go to five percent, then seven. And then by the end of the year, you're at 10 percent.

So make it a goal. Now, at the same time, some listeners would say, I have been giving a tithe or 10 percent all of my life. I would say, well, let's revisit what it means to give. Is your giving sacrificial or has 10 percent become a box that's just been checked? And then you feel like you're good.

You've done your deed. If that's true, then even though you're giving more than this person who's giving one percent, it still doesn't mean you're necessarily giving biblically. According to what the scripture teaches us about giving, because that element of sacrifice is missing. So it's a great goal to get to, but don't let it be a limit. I mean, we look at the New Testament giving, they're going way beyond the 10 percent.

Even if when you look at the Old Testament and start looking at the number of times that they're commanded to give, it actually gets above that 10 percent mark as well. You know, we said there's a path and it starts with giving and then we kind of got stuck talking about giving. And I want to make sure we get down the rest of the path here for folks and just kind of walk them through it.

But I just want to say, because there may be some folks who are listening and they're gone. I know my family life today is doing shows where they're talking about giving. You guys are nonprofit. Let me just say, we believe, first of all, that your primary giving should be to your local church. So that's number one.

You ever hear us say anything different than that? Write us and tell us, because we don't want you taken away from the ministry of your local church to support us. But we do want people who share the vision and the values of this ministry to say, I want to invest there. I want to see this expand and grow. I want to be a part of what God is doing through this ministry. I want it to be a part of my ministry.

We're not starting here to be manipulative, but we're starting here because the Bible says this is a part of how we're to live as kingdom minded people. Now let me get to the rest of the path, because you start with giving, then you put money aside for an emergency fund and you say $1500 is a good number? $1500 to cover what I'd call a minor emergency. So if your tire goes flat, if your washer, for some reason, no longer works, or your dryer, no longer works, you have money set aside for that. I don't want to understate the importance of that $1500.

Right now, 40% of Americans can't afford an emergency that's $400 or more. So getting to that $1500 is a big deal. So once you're giving and once you've gotten to $1500 that's in this rainy day emergency fund, next thing you say is if your company's got a 401k or a 403b retirement thing, you give as much as is being matched by the company, right?

That's right. So some companies have what they call a company match. And what happens is that you put 3% into your retirement account and they agree to match maybe 100% up to that 3%.

So an additional 3%. If your company, if your organization offers some type of company match, take it. Yeah, that's free money right there. And I would argue to say it's earned money, because it's a part of your employment there. It's a part of your benefits.

If you're not participating in that, if you're not getting that match, then you're leaving money on the table. And even if the company match seems small, I can't explain enough how important that small amount can mean over a long period of time because you have something that's called compounding. It's where your money is basically making money off of itself. You'll be amazed at what the $125 a month you're putting aside, what that winds up looking like in 15 years.

And there's a chart in the Marriage Challenge that demonstrates the power of compounding. So I assume that somebody sets aside when they're 16, 17, and 18 through their summer job $2,000 a year. So $6,000 over a three-year period of time.

And that's it. And they simply invest that $6,000 in the S&P 500, which is just an index in which you can invest. If the return mirrors that particular index, then from ages 16 to 65, and I'm using real returns from the S&P 500, that $6,000 turns into $600,000. And that's the power of compounding. So it may seem like a small amount of money, 3%, may seem small, but over a long period of time, it can actually equate to a lot of money. So take advantage of your retirement account. Then make sure you get rid of all of your debt. Accept the mortgage. You say it's okay to have a mortgage. You're paying that down. It's an appreciating asset.

That's right. So get rid of the credit card debt. Get rid of the school debt. Get rid of anything that's on your car loans. Pay all of that off. Leave your mortgage alone. Then start to save three to six months of living expenses for a major emergency.

So you'd like to think if you lost your job, you could go for six months in an emergency situation and kind of live on what you've got saved. Then the next thing is to put 15% of your gross income toward retirement and then save for college or pay off your mortgage. And you end with live generously. You start with give and you end with live generously. And giving is the starting place, but generosity is really the goal, isn't it?

That's right. So our goal is to manage our money in a way that allows us to advance God's kingdom, that allows us to use our resources to live and give generously. So we're not talking about financial health just for the sake of financial health. Admittedly, I have no interest in that. I get excited about helping people get financially healthy so that then they can be a part of reaching their community and the world for Christ. I always say that you're not getting out of debt so that you can simply go buy another toaster. If you need a toaster, that's fine.

You can go buy. But that's not why you're getting out of debt. You're getting out of debt because there's an unreached people group, so a group that has never heard of the name Jesus.

Nobody's gone to tell them yet on the other side of the world. And you're getting out of debt so that that group can hear about Jesus for the first time. You're getting out of debt so that people in your community can hear about Jesus, sometimes for the first time. That's the motivation. As believers, we're motivated by something entirely different than momentary satisfaction. It's something entirely different than just simply making sure that you have the newest and best car and upgraded home. Not that those things are bad in and of themselves, but if they become the motivation, you're going to find yourself discontent.

You're going to find yourself frustrated because they're never going to deliver on the promise, the supposed promise that they make. God has wired us for generosity. We're designed for generous living. We're designed not to be hoarders, but conduits through which his generosity flows.

We already know you're an outlier because at age 16 you started an IRA, okay? So we know that. You're married. I'm married. How many kids? Three. Married three kids.

You're in higher education, which is not a field that is known to be a place where you make a ton of money. That's right. Have you paid off all debt except your mortgage? Yes, and the mortgage is very close to being paid off. You got three to six months worth of living set aside somewhere? Yes, a little bit more because my wife is more of the saver. I'm a saver, but she's like a real saver. Oh my goodness.

And I sacrifice for her sake by actually allowing us to have a little bit more and therefore she's more comfortable. And are you putting 15 percent of your gross toward retirement? More, yes. So you're living this?

Yes, which means that you're going to be making decisions that are going to look a little bit odd at times. Do your kids get swim lessons? We'll throw them in a pond and tell them to bow.

Move your arms. Did they get new notebooks when they go to school? You're able to pay for the basics? They do. They go to a public school in our area.

It's a really good school, not that I have anything against private school, homeschooling. But we've just made some decisions that allow us to make generosity a priority. That's our motivating factor, even for paying off our mortgage. That's why we're doing it so that we can live and give more generously. I'm just wanting people to hear it's not impossible. This is not something you read and you go, well, nobody can actually live like that.

Art and his wife are doing it and there are others who are doing it. And the liberation that comes? Yeah, that's what I was going to say. The liberation, the word I think of is freedom. And most people, when they think about money, that's not what they think. They think bondage, they think anxiety. I can remember laying in bed, not being able to sleep, sweating, thinking about college fund for my kids, thinking about paying the mortgage, and freedom was so far. And you know why? Had no plan, had no milestones.

Just doing the American thing, living paycheck to paycheck. Oh, I want those, I'm going to buy that. And when we got on a plan and said, okay, here's the thing, here's the thing. When you have a plan and you start to live it, again, we didn't use the envelopes, but it could be envelopes or not envelopes, but you still have to have a plan and a budget and these milestones you're living by, you can go to the movie. Here's what I always say to people at our church. And you can buy the big popcorn.

That's right. You can live in freedom because why? First of all, I'm giving, I'm putting money away, blah, blah, blah. And then I walk in there and it's like, I don't have to be, oh, I got to get the little thingy. It's like, let's enjoy the movie because we've taken care of those things. And again, it's not simple, but it's like you said. It's a disciplined life.

You've got to make hard decisions that really are important that matter and you'll sleep at night. And that's how the milestones build off of one another so they get you started. And it's amazing when you get to milestone seven or even milestone eight and you look back on it, you say, wow, it's amazing what God did through this is amazing.

But it's because you took these little steps all along the way that allowed you to experience living and giving generously in ways that you weren't able to do before. Thank you for helping couples. Thank you for helping us.

Thanks for having me. I hope a lot of couples will get this book. I would love to see small groups of young couples going through this material together and holding one another accountable and challenging one another and saying, let's do this.

Let's get out of the spin cycle we're in and let's start to live in alignment with God's desire for us and to advance his kingdom. We've got copies of Art's book, The Marriage Challenge, available in our Family Life Today Resource Center. Go online to familylifetoday.com to order or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, our website is familylifetoday.com. You can call to order the book, The Marriage Challenge. Our number is 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. I don't know if we realize this as parents, but how we talk about money, our kids are paying attention. In fact, Mary Ann and I used to have conversations about, yeah, what are we going to do about that?

And what about that expense? And our kids would get anxious. They'd get nervous. Like, are we going to the poor farm? And they didn't even know what the poor farm was. They just heard us talk about that.

David Robbins is here with us in the studio. You were shaped by conversations you heard your parents have. Oh, yeah. I vividly remember in high school my parents starting to talk about money intentionally and together in a way that they had not previously and in this refreshed and renewed way. And it marked me because I saw their oneness grow.

I saw how on the same page they got. I remember some of those financial meetings where I just wanted to close my ears and go into the other room. But I also remember how they would get up from the table and go for a walk and keep talking. It shaped my life. It shaped my view of money.

And if you're asking yourself, like, where are we even and where do we even start? I loved Art's suggestion that he shared about just having a conversation with your spouse about your money personalities, especially in your current season of life. Obviously, we don't make it accusatory, but talk together about what personality you think each other reflects when it comes to money, being a saver or a spender, investor or ignorer. And, you know, we do this often with premiers counseling and as newlyweds and we kind of enter out of the gate well. But then life just takes its course and we just settle into, well, this is who we are when it comes to money.

But God has more for us than that and it will shape you to have these conversations and it will shape your family. Now, that's a good word. Thank you, David. We should also mention for our listeners that money is on our mind here at Family Life during the month of May because of the matching gift that has been made available to us by some friends of the ministry. Every donation we're receiving this month is being matched dollar for dollar up to a total of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. And by the way, thank you to those of you who have already called or gone online and made a donation. Your donation has been doubled as a result of this matching gift, and we're grateful for that. When you make a donation today, in addition to that donation being matched, we're also going to send you a couple of thank you gifts. We'll send you two books from Erin and Jamie Ivy, a book that Erin wrote for husbands and a book Jamie wrote for wives.

They both have the same title, Compliment the Surprising Beauty of Choosing Together Over Separate in Marriage. And along with the books, we're going to send you a flash drive that includes some recent conversations that Dave and Anna and I have had about some of the highlights of the last twenty eight years here at Family Life. Guests we've had, ideas that have been shared on this program, just the stuff that has stuck with me over the years.

So you'll get the flash drive and the books as our way of saying thank you when you make a donation today. And again, you can do that online at familylifetoday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to do that. Now, tomorrow, we're going to talk about some of the unique challenges that couples who are in blended marriages face when it comes to money.

And this is actually something you should be thinking about before you form a blended family. Ron Deal will be here to talk about how smart step families handle financial issues. Hope you can tune in for that. I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, got some extra help from Bruce Goff and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life of Little Rock, Arkansas, a crew ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-19 07:18:35 / 2023-11-19 07:31:29 / 13

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