A step-by-step guide to financial freedom
Do you know if you have enough? Do you know how much is enough? If you can't answer these questions, Master Your Money is for you.
In this book, Ron Blue extracts principles from God's Word and applies them to your financial portfolio.
Learn how to:
- Avoid the most common financial mistakes
- Apply biblical principles for money management
- Save, invest, and give wisely
- Create a long-term financial plan that works
- Plan for your taxes and estate needs
- Get out of debt
Ron’s professional experience in financial planning will ease your anxieties over money and be an asset to you and your family for generations to come. Learn the tools and techniques you need to move forward toward true financial freedom.
This new edition includes important updates and new content, making it timely and relevant.
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About the Author
RON BLUE is a successful entrepreneur in the financial services industry and an admired leader and speaker on the topic of Biblical financial management. In 1970, he founded an Indianapolis-based CPA firm which has grown to be one of the 50 largest CPA firms in the United States. In 1979, he founded Ronald Blue & Co., a fee-only financial planning firm, convinced that Christians would better handle their personal finances if they were counseled objectively with the highest technical expertise and from a Biblical perspective. Ron is the author of twelve books on personal finance from a Biblical perspective, including the best-seller, Master Your Money, and his most recent book, Wealth to Last, co-authored with Larry Burkett. He is currently the President of Kingdom Advisors and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Read an Excerpt
Master Your Money
A Step-by-Step Plan for Experiencing Financial Contentment
By Ron Blue, Michael Blue
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2016 The Ron Blue Library, LLC
All rights reserved.
Will I Ever Have Enough?
* * *
"Just about the time you make both ends meet, somebody moves the ends"
"If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed. We are bought by the enemy with the treasure in our own coffers."
"Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way. That was a true proverb of the wise man, rely upon it; 'Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure, and trouble therewith'."
* * *
At the age of twenty-four, I had every ingredient needed for success — an MBA degree, my Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate, a well-paying job with the worlds largest CPA firm in their New York City office, a driving ambition to be a success, and a supportive and very intelligent wife.
For the next eight years, I proved to myself that anyone could succeed by really putting everything into it. By the time I was thirty-two years old, I had achieved every financial and success goal I had set:
I had moved rapidly up the corporate ladder.
I had founded the fastest growing CPA firm in Indiana, and it became one of the fifty largest firms in the United States.
I, along with others, owned two small banks in Indiana.
I had a lovely wife and three young daughters.
I had all of the trappings of success: a new home, new cars, country club memberships, and the like.
I had also just committed my life to Jesus Christ — a commitment that began to change my perspective and my priorities.
It was during the early 1970s, and for the first time in the nations history, that Americans began experiencing "tremendous" inflation rates of 4 percent and 5 percent. The prime rate hit an unbelievable high of 10 percent and then even went to 12 percent. The dollar was taken off the gold standard, and for the first time in recent history, the United States began running a trade deficit.
In the midst of personal affluence, I began to experience the fear that comes from wondering, Will I ever have enough? Or, If I do have enough now, will it be enough when I retire? And, By the way, how much is enough? I believe that everyone, rich and poor, asks himself these underlying questions more frequently than he would like to admit. These questions are constantly in our subconscious, and therefore we all deal with them somehow in our decision making. Either we tend to hoard our resources, or we tend to live out the philosophy of "get all the gusto you can — you only go around once."
The Christian, additionally is confronted with the question, What is the appropriate Christian lifestyle? This book, by the grace of God, will attempt to answer each of these questions by providing a framework of financial planning that is both biblical and relevant in our unique society.
Through the mid-1970s I dealt with these questions, both personally and as an advisor to a largely wealthy, secular clientele. In 1977 my wife, Judy, and I experienced Gods call to leave the businesses I was involved in and join a new ministry in Atlanta, Georgia. For two years, as our family grew to five children, I helped to develop seminar materials in the areas of decision making, time management, faith planning, and problem solving. During this time, I traveled to Africa eleven times, assisting a large Christian organization to apply the principles that we were teaching.
I observed during all of this that the same financial questions my former clients and I had been asking were being asked by others as well: missionaries, affluent Africans, poor Africans, full-time Christian workers, successful American executives, pastors, and friends. The questions were:
Will I ever have enough?
Will it continue to be enough?
How much is enough, particularly in view of my Christian convictions and understanding of Scripture?
The questions transcended cultures as well as classes.
In 1979, at the encouragement of Dr. Howard Hendricks, I began a financial planning career with the objective of removing the fear and frustration that Christians experience when they deal with money. The need for this type of counsel and advice is, I believe, pervasive.
Christian teaching and application go from the extreme of sharing personal income in communal living to the "prosperity gospel" approach. Both extremes are an attempt to reach God in the way we handle our money, when all the time He is attempting to reach out to us with His wisdom, counsel, and principles. I believe so strongly that all Christians need godly counsel for their finances that I now split my time between serving as the founding director of Kingdom Advisors (see appendix B and the website www.kingdomadvisors.com) and as the executive director of the Ron Blue Institute for Financial Planning at Indiana Wesleyan University (see appendix C and the website www.ronblueinstitute.com).
This book outlines the journey that Judy and I have been on for over forty years to "be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Colossians 1:9 nkjv), as it specifically relates to personal money management for the Christian in the context of a very uncertain economic future.
The Rich and the Poor
In the world's most affluent society in all of history, very, very few individuals ever achieve a position of being able to live off the resources they have accumulated. The vast majority are dependent on government, relatives, or charity, or they must continue to work in order to have enough income to meet their needs. Yet there are exceptions, and I have had the privilege of meeting and working with many people who are better equipped to handle their future and the uncertainty it may contain.
One of the dramatic exceptions is that of a retired pastor who never earned more than $8,000 in one year. I met this humble man because he wanted to know if he had enough financial resources to live out the rest of his life. At the time of his question, he was eighty years old; he had been retired for twenty years; and his wife had just begun to require full-time nursing care. His question, therefore, was a justifiable one!
As I generally do, I began to ask some questions before giving advice. First, I asked him if he had any debts. His response was no, and he went on to say he had never borrowed any money. I asked, "Why not?" He said because if he borrowed money, he would have to pay it back someday, and he couldn t afford to pay off debt, feed his family, and tithe.
My second question was to ask what resources he presently had. He indicated that in his wife's name, they had approximately $250,000 in cash, money market funds, and certificates of deposit. Additionally, in his name, they had another $350,000 in cash and cash-type investments. Needless to say, I was impressed! Over $600,000 in cash accumulated by a couple who had never earned more than $8,000 per year! And this was in 1982.
One thing bothered me though. He had not mentioned any stock investments, and yet in looking at his tax returns, I noticed a substantial amount of dividend income. He revealed that at retirement he had invested approximately $10,000 in the stock of a new company, and at the present time, the market value of his stock in that company was $1,063,000. WOW! $1,663,000 of cash and stock and they had never earned more than $8,000 per year!
This couple was unusual, but I know of many other couples who are headed in the same direction. They practice some very basic biblical principles that work regardless of the economy or economic environment. Incidentally, my advice to this man was not to seek advice from anyone, myself included, because we might "mess him up." I would be better off listening to him. This couple had followed four basic economic principles that will work for anyone regardless of the economic uncertainty or situation. We will examine those principles in chapter 2.
Would this man have enough to live on? That was his question. Without a doubt he had enough to live on, and he even had enough extra to be able to enjoy giving some away during his lifetime. We'll talk more about giving in chapter 14.
The years following World War II have seen an incredible growth in our affluence as a nation. No people, ever, have possessed the material resources that we do. We are truly a blessed people, and yet there are some significant cracks in our economic structure.
Our national debt (the amount of money owed by our government) is over $18,000,000,000,000! That's approximately $56,400 for every man, woman, and child in our country. When this book was first published, our national debt was just over $2,000,000,000,000, which amounted to $8,850 for every person in our country. This is an 800 percent increase in debt in thirty years and a 537 percent per person increase over that same time period, while the cumulative rate of inflation during this same period was only 117.8 percent. If this trend continues, our country will become bankrupt at some point. If we wanted to pay off this current debt, we would first of all have to stop going into debt; and then if we started a repayment plan of $ 1,000,000 per hour (that is $24,000,000 per day), it will still take over two thousand years to pay back the debt (assuming there is no interest charged on the debt, which there is!). We have mortgaged not only our children's future but also obligated countless future generations because of our lack of control and impatient spending. Someone must pay this debt through a literal repayment (future taxes), a deceitful repayment (future inflation), or cancelation (political upheaval). There are no other alternatives. The debt will not merely disappear.
I could go on and on about how serious our economic problems are. For example, what happens to our banking system if Third World countries refuse to pay their debts to American banks? What if the federal budget is not balanced? What happens to our economy if Chinas economy fails? The fact of the matter is, the problems are serious, and there is absolutely nothing that you or I, as individuals, can do to solve them.
While the original thirteen colonies were still part of Great Britain, Professor Alexander Tyler wrote of the Athenian Republic, which had fallen two thousand years earlier:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves a largesse from the [public] treasury. From that moment on, the majority will always vote for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy and is always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From BONDAGE to SPIRITUAL FAITH; from SPIRITUAL FAITH to GREAT COURAGE; from GREAT COURAGE to ABUNDANCE; from ABUNDANCE to SELFISHNESS; from SELFISHNESS to COMPLACENCY; from COMPLACENCY to APATHY; from APATHY to DEPENDENCY; from DEPENDENCY back again into BONDAGE.
When I wrote this book, I was convinced that the United States was at least at the abundance level in the sequence outlined by Professor Tyler, and quite possibly at the selfishness level. In my opinion we have now moved beyond selfishness, complacency, and apathy and are firmly entrenched at the dependency level, as evidenced by the pervasive attitude of entitlement in our society.
Before you wring your hands in despair, let me give you a question to ponder. Do you think God is worried? Is He wringing His hands in despair, wondering how it is all going to turn out? Of course not! Inflation, deflation, monetary collapse, and political upheavals are nothing new to Him, and His message is just as relevant today as it has always been.
The context, therefore, of personal money management is that God is still in control, and under His control there are four broad economic possibilities: (1) inflation, (2) deflation, (3) monetary collapse, or (4) political upheaval. Although I am neither an economist nor a prophet and I do not know what is going to happen, I can plan for possible eventualities and base my planning on basic biblical financial principles. In the early 1980s, almost everyone was projecting increasing double-digit inflation. One of the consequences of that belief was a rapid escalation in raw land prices, especially farmland. However, at the beginning of the twenty-first-century farmland could be purchased for one-third to one-half of what it was selling for in the early 1980s and today it costs only 33 percentmore than it cost in the early 1980s. Almost no one predicted the collapse in farmland prices or oil prices during the beginning of the twenty-first century, and the consequent devastation to many families, corporations, and even cities. In the early 2000s, economists began mentioning deflation in the midst of the upheaval of the war on terrorism, and they are now mentioning inflation in the wake of historically low interest rates over a long period of time. The point is that neither inflation nor deflation is a sure thing. God is sovereign and can direct the course of our economy in any way He wants.
In any case, planning one's finances must take place under the sovereignty of God, recognizing His omnipotence, wisdom, purposes, and plans. Because there are only four economic possibilities, I must plan for all four in answering three primary questions:
Will I ever have enough?
Will it continue to be enough?
How much is enough?
I believe that God is more interested in each of us individually than He is in any failure or success of our economic system. I do not believe that the Bible sets forth any one economic system. God is interested in how I glorify Him wherever I live — whether under capitalism, communism, socialism, or any other system.
God has called each of us to a unique role in an uncertain economy. To be prepared for that role, we must understand the biblical principles of money management given in the next chapter.
* * *
Ron's Thirty Years of Reflection: As I read these words from thirty years ago, I am reminded of how certain economic uncertainty is. Looking back over the multitude of economic crises that have come and gone over this period of time, I can continue to say with absolute confidence that the only certainty we ever have with respect to the economy is when we look back and see what happened. I can also say with great certainty that even though we will always be living in the midst of economic uncertainty, Gods Word is the same today as it was yesterday and His sovereignty will never end.
Michaels Thirty Years of Reflection: While my thirty years of reflection encompasses nearly 75 percent of my life, my dad and I thought it would be interesting for this book to include the reflections of a person in their late thirties (me) as well as one in their early seventies (my dad). As I read and reflect on this chapter, I am struck by my own struggle with the question of will ever I have enough and what does that even mean? This question has the ability to paralyze me with fear. With so much turmoil and uncertainty in the world, the only thing I find certain and unchanging is the Word of God and His promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me. When I quit trying to define enough by a number and rely on enough being God and what He has given me, I am able to trust more deeply and live more intimately with God.
Excerpted from Master Your Money by Ron Blue, Michael Blue. Copyright © 2016 The Ron Blue Library, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Will I Ever Have Enough?
2. Four Biblical Principles of Money Management
3. A Financial Planning Overview
4. Guaranteed Financial Success
5. The Myths of Inflation
6. The Dangers of Debt
7. The Myths of Inflation
8. Setting Faith Financial Goals
9. Avoiding the Most Common Financial Mistakes
10. Designing a Personal Financial Plan
11. Control the Flow
12. Tax Planning 13. Investment Planning
14. Stewardship After Death
15. Giving Living
What People are Saying About This
Many times over the years I have turned to the writings of Ron Blue. His books have been a source of great insight and practical counsel. Both the man and the books are of great value. - Max Lucado, pastor and bestselling author
Long before Dave Ramsey was encouraging people to live like no one else, Ron Blue was out blazing new trails as one of the great pioneers of Christian stewardship. Through his writing, speaking and teaching, Ron has been an unwavering voice for God’s ways of handling money. - Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio show host
Twenty-five years ago Master Your Money profoundly impacted the way I viewed money and financial planning. Twenty-five years later, the principles that Ron so eloquently lays out continue to form the basis for my personal money management. This is a timeless resource. - Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor, North Point Community Church
When it comes to money management, Ron Blue is the gold standard. Few people have accumulated more wisdom, and that wisdom is communicated with so much grace. - Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker, Lead Pastor of National Community Church
Ron Blue has inked the gold standard for financial wisdom. Like advice from an old friend who loves us, Ron coaches us with biblically grounded “Why didn’t I think of that?” insights. Not only does Ron’s book give us the view from 30,000 feet, he pilots us along at treetop level with useful worksheets and practical “how-to” tips. Master Your Money presents “You can take it to the bank” answers for every conceivable money-related question you can think of. Must-reading for the financially challenged. - Patrick Morley, author and CEO, Man in the Mirror
I know Ron Blue to be a man who loves Jesus and desires to serve people. Ron is wise, and he has a heart for what stirs God’s heart. Readers will find much to learn and benefit from in Master Your Money. - Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven and Happiness
If you are looking for solid, wise counsel on managing your finances, you’ve found it. Ron is a rare mix of a leader who has spent a lifetime helping people, couples and families, not just manage their finances well, but do it in a way that honors God and His work. - Dr. Dennis Rainey, President and CEO, FamilyLife
As Americans, we’re a walking contradiction. We’re wildly affluent and yet buried in debt. I’m convinced if we had listened to Ron Blue thirty years ago, the lessons of Master Your Money could have saved us untold grief. Thankfully, this revised and updated edition reminds us that it’s never too late to take good advice. - Michael Hyatt, New York Times bestselling author