Book Review – “Managing God’s Money” by Randy Alcorn

We generally read personal finance books because we want to learn how to make our money work for us.  We want to make more, save more, have more, and we want to know the secrets of the finance industry.  None of those reasons are necessarily bad reasons to read a book about money, but none of those reasons are why Randy Alcorn wrote Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide.  There are no concrete pieces of investment advice, no strategies on how to flip real estate properties on weekends, and no guidelines on how best to leave your wealth to your children.  In fact, Alcorn tells his readers that he’s not leaving anything to his children, because his view of money is drastically different than 98% of other authors out there.

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It’s Not About the Coffee

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Photo: Dojo Blog

Alright, let’s talk about the “latte factor.”  You know, the one that berates people for their morning coffee routine.  Just in case you’re one of today’s lucky 10,000, the latte factor suggests that if instead of spending $5 every weekday in the drive-through, you saved that money in an investment account earning an average 8% interest over 40 years, you’d have an extra $300,000 at retirement.  That’s certainly nothing to ignore, and when you look at it on paper (after you’ve had your coffee, of course), giving up something so small for a gain of over a quarter million dollars sounds like a no-brainer.  Because the scenario fits nearly everyone’s situation, and can be easily adapted for those that it doesn’t apply directly to, the so-called latte factor of retirement savings has been touted by countless bloggers, newspapers, books, and listicles as the reason we millennials aren’t going to be able to retire.  Apparently, we don’t care.  Stories from Bloomberg, Vice, and the Washington Post report that we’re not only not cutting back on our coffee shop visits, we’re drinking more than anyone ever has.  And we’re almost militant about it.  Several bloggers have struck back, saying that coffee isn’t going to be the reason they retire with less than they need, so let us enjoy the small things.  They shift the blame to underemployment, crushing student loans, underperforming markets, failing government programs such as Social Security, etc. So, who’s right?  Are we drinking ourselves to poverty?  Or can we continue our record-breaking obsession with those fragrant magic beans guilt-free?

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Book Review – The $1,000 Challenge

Brian J. O’Connor, a personal finance columnist for The Detroit News, set out to answer a question for the sake of his readers following the 2008 economic crash: Could the average American family save $1,000 a month without giving up things we have all come to enjoy in this modern age, like eating?  He tackled the question in his weekly column through a 10-part series, with each part addressing a different part of his family’s budget.  He then compiled the series, with some added commentary, into a book about what he found out. Having just come from The Total Money Makeover, O’Connor’s approach feels very different.  He doesn’t call for complete behavioral change, he doesn’t have any long-term goals in mind, and he doesn’t even promise the same results for someone following his advice.  He just has a simple, one-time objective: show how his family saved in their monthly budget.

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Update #6 – January 2017

This month, we had a break in the storm clouds long enough to make another big payment on R’s car.  God willing, we’re well on our way toward paying it off by June!  I know I’ve said this before, but interest on debt is the WORST.  We actually sent $1643.98 towards debt this month, but $529.18 was eaten up by interest.  It’s so hard to make such big payments only to see it all but wiped out due to interest accumulation.  At least as we go along, that will start to matter less and less.

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#YOLO. So Plan Ahead.

Do the kids even say #YOLO anymore?  Maybe they say something like, “Bruh, dat fleek is lit! Howbow dah?!”  I don’t know.  When I was a kid, our slang was still at least words, we just used them wrong.  Today’s slang all just sounds like someone ripped half the pages out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten my rocking chair set up on my porch, and I’ve got an eye on those hooligans on my lawn, I want to bring up the most interesting topic you’ll read about all day: life insurance.  Come back, don’t leave!! I don’t want to sell you anything in particular, but I do want to plead with you to consider it, because this is so important.  If you have anyone that depends on you, whether it’s a spouse, children, elderly parent, whoever, close your eyes for a minute.  Well, not yet, read the rest of this, then close your eyes.  Imagine that you’re on your way home from work, and a drunk driver merges into your lane right where your car is, sending you into the median.  The next thing you know, you’re standing in front of God Himself, and there is no chance for a do-over of your life on earth.  What happens to the family you leave behind tonight?  Tomorrow?  Five years from now?  If your wife has been a stay-at-home mom, is she going to have to somehow find a full-time job in addition to all she’s been doing with the kids, and now without your help?  If you’re part of a dual-income family, is your spouse going to be able to survive without your portion?Read More »