Making Money Count
All of the chapters in my money story could be summed up with three words: make it count. As a Financial Advisor, I’ve had a decades-long fascination with squeezing value and meaning out of every dollar and helping my clients do the same. I even named my business Make Your Money Count, LLC. But the essence of my money story focuses on faith more than finances.
My personal definition of success—what it means to make my money count—has never been reduced to asset growth or optimized risk-adjusted returns. True financial success comes when we thoughtfully combine money with meaning and (for those who are so inclined) faith. Wealth is best managed according to a purpose higher than self, a principle I saw lived out in my family.
My dad dreamed of owning a farm, and when I was 3, my parents bought a small hobby farm in rural Wisconsin. Every morning, Dad got up early to feed the animals and do chores. Then he left the house to work his full-time job. When he returned home, he worked in the shop for another few hours before bed. He worked a lot! But it was his boyhood dream and he loved the farm.
There were many money lessons that I could have learned from my parents’ decision to buy the farm. I could have learned to avoid debt by saving up for a big purchase. I could have learned how to start a small business. I could have learned the value of hard work. But the thing that caught my attention was how and why that dream ended.
My parents—especially my mom, had an unshakable sense that God was calling them to overseas mission work. As you know, farms don’t run themselves, so to say “yes” to God’s dream meant letting go of my dad’s dream.
Is it wise to make major financial decisions based on an unproven hunch that God wants us to do something? That was the challenge my dad had to wrestle through. And wrestle he did! Over time, he became increasingly convinced that it was the right thing to do. Despite this, it was incredibly difficult for him to let go of his dream. After dragging his feet for two years, Dad made a deal with God while mending some fences.
He was grumbling quietly to himself about his work. He had mended the fence a few months earlier, and here he was, at it again. Suddenly, an internal voice asked a poignant question:
So why don’t you store up for yourself treasure in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy?
The question pierced Dad’s heart as he thought back over the years, years he spent feeling unaligned with God’s plan for his life.
“OK, God,” he said. “If you want me to sell the farm and go into full-time ministry and even move to Kenya, you’ll have to send someone to buy the farm. And I’m not going to advertise that it’s for sale.”
It was the closest to full surrender that Dad could get.
A few weeks later, a man and woman drove up the driveway uninvited and asked if Dad would ever consider selling his farm. They didn’t make an offer, but Dad knew it wasn’t a bizarre coincidence. It was a confirmation that it was time to move on to the next season of his life. It was time for a new dream.
My takeaway from this experience is that a logical, efficient financial strategy isn’t enough to make our money count.
For my own finances and for those of my faith-driven clients, the best outcomes are the result of savvy strategy combined with a listening, prayerful heart. Growing up in Kenya as the daughter of missionaries who regularly moved back and forth between continents, I learned some heart-centered lessons about money. Some of my earliest money memories are of giving money at church and watching my parents trust God to provide for their needs and guide their financial decisions. I also went from being a poor kid in the U.S. (with a government subsidized school lunch program) to standing in Nairobi surrounded by Kenyan street kids begging me for a shilling.
Here’s what I learned about money:
Our core beliefs shape our values. Our values determine our priorities. Excellent financial decisions always align with those values and priorities. When we use money this way, we avoid regrets and create the impactful, meaningful life that we desire. Our financial decisions essentially carve out a pathway for our lives.
So what does all of this have to do with investing? It probably explains the origin of my strong conviction regarding intentional, values-aligned investing. For the Christian investor, God is the rightful owner of all wealth. So great financial management means adopting his values and priorities, like caring for the least of these and becoming careful stewards of the planet he entrusted to us.
A private equity fund I recently discovered offers the opportunity to invest (with expectation of a market rate return) in start-up companies in East Africa. The companies in the portfolio provide jobs and care for employees, giving hope and an escape from poverty for an area of the world that is dear to my heart. One company specifically hires deaf young people to package yogurt and other dairy products, while developing a community in which those who have been rejected by their own families experience a new kind of acceptance. Everyone at the facility speaks sign language, and all are treated with respect and love. My goal for 2021 is to become an investor in this fund. It’s the best way I can imagine to make my money count.
What are your priorities? How can you make your money count?
If you struggle to answer these questions, we can help. Schedule a 15-minute discovery phone call today to begin gaining clarity on your priorities and challenges and to learn how Make Your Money Count can help your money count.
Article by Rachel McDonough, an award-winning* Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a Certified Kingdom Advisor with over 18 years of experience, as well as a published author. As a recognized leader in Faith-Driven Investing, she is passionate about helping Christian families live with zero financial regrets by aligning their finances with their faith-driven values, including environmental stewardship. With her Values-Driven Wealth Management Process, clients can plan wisely for their future and make a positive impact for the next generation. Rachel founded Make Your Money Count, LLC in 2009 with the goal of making this highly personalized process accessible to clients across the country through technology. * Named a Five Star Wealth Manager for 2013, 2014, 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2021.