This week I’m looking at the “financial / career” development piece of my life puzzle. There’s a survey I have to take at the beginning of the section, and as I did that, I found myself with quite a few strong strengths, and quite a few weak weaknesses. There were a few things in between, but on the edges, things were either great or completely absent. For example, I’m extremely well insured via life insurance, but to be honest, my will is severely lacking (some might read that “non-existant.”) My family and I are getting better and better at budgeting each month and even longer term than that, but my business is run more through the monthly flow of cash. I know the basics of where and when that’s coming each month, but the changes I’m going through right now are going to require more than that.

I seem to be fine, even good, with making decisions when a problem is handed to me that needs to be solve, or when I can simply “do the math” and make a decision right then and there. What seems to be lacking are those more “off in the distance” types of things, like what do I want my financial picture to look like when I’m in my 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and beyond. I’m fine with saying my wife and family will need X dollars if I die, but if I’m still alive, don’t I need to have a plan for THAT too? The thing is, if I’m still alive, then it’s got to be some of what I want to make of it, I can’t just give someone the money and let them make the decisions as to what to do. This would be further evidenced by the lacking of a good will, long range budgeting, etc.

On the other hand, though, when I look at my past achievements, I see that it is possible for me to do great things with money. Things like give $10,000 to charity in a year, all while paying down over $30,000 in debts over the course of a few years and starting my own business from a shoestring. We’ve accomplished great things! But so many of them didn’t require planning. They were decisions that needed to be made, and while good decisions were made, they weren’t really thought out for the long haul, even though they affected it greatly.

So as I look at that, I see the benefit that this concept of goal planning is going to have on my financial picture. If I see what’s possible, it opens my eyes to how much better things could be if I really thought through what we could do with X amount of dollars.

One thing I dearly love is giving money away. Some of the cooresponding items on my dream inventory are things like:

  • Give away 90% of my money and live off of 10%, instead of the other way around.
  • Buy someone else a home.
  • Host an exchange student.
  • Do ______ on the side, without having to worry about the income it brings in.

These dreams excite me. They motivate me. As I start to look at the financial decisions I make now in light of those dreams and important things, it makes me realize that they won’t come to be unless I plan for them, unless I prepare myself for them, and essentially, make them happen. Sure, I wholeheartedly believe that God directs my paths, that He provides for me, and that He will open up the doors of my life. But I also believe He wants me to push those doors open, to try the locks and see where He’s at work, to take the risk (and even experience) of failure in order to achieve the greater things He has planned that will only come about through experience, trial and error, and hard stinking work.

So this is an area of my life I see much opportunity, and even much victory in the past, but that victory was more often by God’s grace and circumstance, instead of my own investment in what he’s given me. I don’t want to be the servant who, when Jesus returns, gives Him back His resources and says, “here, I kept it safe for you.” To follow the servant who brought back 10-fold (or was it more) is going to take smart investing, hard work, and risk taking. I may even have to risk it all, even lose it all, but I can still trust that God is faithful through all of it.

Toward that end, I am writing down the following goal categories for financial and career development:

  • Increase my ability to give a greater proportion of my income away.

  • Prepare for the long term future (death, old age, what I want from retirement)

  • Become debt free

  • Invest and Save on a recurring, increasing, and significant basis.

  • Consider and consider steps towards other careers I’d like to pursue, even as part-time or volunteer positions

  • Plan ahead for business finances, including what we’ll get, spend, and have on hand.

  • Build an increasing revenue stream through my company that does more than just pay me for the hours I work: Residual income, products developed, services provided via those producdts, etc.

Give away an increasingly higher proportion of my income Find out exactly what percentage we are currently giving away each month (currently it’s $ based, not % based) and increase it by 1% over 2 months. From that point forward, make it a specific percent of income. 3
Prepare for the unknown long-term future Write my will. 1
Become debt free Create an amortization schedule for my last credit card (even though it’s at 0% fixed interest forever) and seek to pay it off in 2 years. 6
Open my eyes to alternate careers Find a good book about the career of Christian counseling. 5
Plan ahead for business finances Created a “dream” and “bare minimum” budget for C2IT starting from the point I’m at right now for the next 12 months. 2
Build residual income Start a NING site for Fleet and Home-Service businesses with the expectation of building them a custom ticket management solution. 4
Give away an increasingly higher proportion of my income Read the biography of R. G. LeTourneau 3