In the past three to four years, I cannot remember how many times I’ve read something along the lines of, “If you stopped buying a latte every morning and invested that $5 for the next 30 years, it will be worth $149,035.94… assuming an 8% return”. Generally I believe that to be good advice. But have found it to be rather impractical in execution. Seriously, how many of us have actually read the same thing, curbed our coffee addiction and actually invested the difference? My guess is very, very, very few.
I’ve been reading more investment books recently. Part of it is because I find them to be a “fun and light” read, but also because I’m feeling a sense of conviction of how I am stewarding God’s resources and want to make sure I give Him the best return on investment through me.
I don’t think I’m actually wasteful at all. I brew my own coffee. I take 1 minute showers to save water. I have TJ cut my hair. I keep my home’s thermostat warm during the summer and cold during the winter. We don’t have cable TV (except for that one month during the summer of 2010 for the World Cup). I work out from home to save on a gym membership. I still have a pair of shoes that I wear regularly from seven years ago. But while I’m not spending much, and our giving has increased every year, I do believe that I can do more to give more.
I am eternally grateful for the people behind Sound Mind Investing for forever changing my financial family tree. They taught me how to save, how to invest and more importantly how to be generous and to give abundantly. TJ and I walked into our marriage debt free, had a fully funded emergency savings within a few months, started saving for “retirement” and started giving where our hearts were led. They taught me the value of a financial plan and how to honor the Lord and His works with careful planning and a “loose” checkbook to give.
As I mentioned before, TJ and I don’t have cable TV. The difference of having cable or not is about $50/month for us (internet bundle) and so I did the math. Just like the hypothetical latte above and arrived at: $50/month for 40 years (by the time I “retire”) at 8% will be $174,550.39. But rather than just say to myself, “Wow that’s a lot of money”, I decided to start investing it, for real.
I get play money to spend on clothes, gadgets, shoes or whatever I want every month. If I were to get cable or something else purely for me, it would come from my “allowance”. So starting today, rather than spend that $50/month for cable TV, I am investing it. As I’m writing this, my first investment went through my brokerage firm and I am on my way to “Wow that’s a lot of money” sometime in the future.
My plan for this money is simple: use it to advance God’s Kingdom. I realize that rather than investing it, I could be giving it right now instead and I firmly believe that’s a good option too. I’m choosing not for several reasons: 1. I believe God is not asking me to do that right now. 2. I know a thing or two about investing to grow it modestly and 3. I am inspired by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
I will not have their resources by the time I reach their age. My level of impact in terms of giving back will not be at that capacity. But I love what they’re doing and their attempts to do good in this world by creating sustainable systems. It’s the very same thing that our good friend Kirby Trapolino is doing with Peace Gospel International, and we are utterly delighted to be a part of what he’s doing. I believe that I should invest carefully and prudently so that when the time comes, I can with the stroke of a pen, write a big fat check (will checks still be around then?) and create some kind of system for the betterment of mankind and as a testimony of God’s love.
I believe God gave me a serious interest in investments for a reason. I believe that I should wisely invest the money so my Master will have a decent return for his resources. I believe that will be one way I can contribute to His story of redemption. I believe I can make a difference. I believe that difference starts now with my “cable TV” money.