I was recently interviewed for a podcast where one of the interviewers asked why I used such difficult words in my blog. I was taken aback by the question because I don’t think I use 50¢ words unless it is to increase clarity. 

In this third and last installment of Christmas themed personal finance posts I am going to be guilty of the most egregious crime: I will use another 50¢ word to convey a message of importance.

It started with the popular current activity of paying for the person behind you in the checkout line or fast food drive-through. It certainly is  fine gesture of goodwill. I rarely eat at fast food restaurants, but started to wonder what I would do if my meal were paid for. Would I pay for the person behind me if there was someone behind me in line to keep the cycle going?

The more I thought about it the more it disturbed me. Why should my meal be comped when I have ample financial resources? Shouldn’t the money be applied where needed the most, with people suffering financial hardship?

The same thing happens at the grocery store. A kind fellow (or woman) pays for the groceries of someone next to them. I like this more because it is at least easier to determine if the person in question could use the financial help. But that isn’t a guarantee, however. I dress down often and look like a homeless man more often than not. You can ask my employees. I’ve been known to wander in wearing worn jogging pants and a t-shirt. Judging a book by its cover is a 50/50 proposition at best.

The act of kindness I find most beneficial is when someone pays the utility bills for several people who are struggling financially, as noted by their delinquent bill. 

Regardless the Christmas spirit, there is always a nagging voice warning me such behavior could be counter-productive or going to the wrong soul.

 

A Christmas Carol

I can’t imagine there is anyone reading this post that is unfamiliar with the short Charles Dickens holiday novel, A Christmas Carol. Most have seen one of the myriad adaptions of the book. Some renditions are really good and some are left lacking and untrue to the original story.

We all remember the ghosts visiting Scrooge: the ghost of Christmas past, present and future. It is the ghost of Christmas present that interests us most. 

As you recall, the ghost of Christmas present took Scrooge to see his nephew’s house and the laughter-filled party. It was a humble celebration for sure, but celebration no less.  But that was not all the ghost of Christmas present had to reveal. 

Upon leaving the Cratchits’, Scrooge was taken from the city of London to the “deserted moor” of a miners camp; then to a solitary lighthouse under the crash of waves; and finally to the desk of a ship far out at sea. In each instance the celebration was humble. Kind words, the humming of a Christmas tune were the extent of the Christmas celebrations. It was humility the spirit wanted Scrooge to see; humility while celebrating the greatest hope ever offered.

And then Scrooge heard laughter, the laughter of his nephew as he is ripped back to the scene of Christmas present closer to home. 

 

Propitiation

Now for our 50¢ word. You might remember this word from church if you are a person of faith. Propitiation is generally used in religion to mean “the paying of another’s debts”. A more accurate representation of propitiation is to “appease”. 

Today’s 50¢ word is required because the meaning is so much deeper and richer and the explanation spreads far further than mere appeasement. This is part of your life in the secular world as well.

To propitiate is to seek favor. That is opposite of my pay-it-forward philosophy. Paying for the person’s meal behind me creates a debt for that person. What if the person behind you is poorer than you and barely has the funds to pay for his own meal and the person behind him has a more expensive meal? You did no favors to that one person.

A child who breaks a vase might wash the dishes for mom before being asked as a peace offering; a form of propitiation. 

An act of propitiation must be conciliatory. You are sorry for some action or words spoken. Propitiation is more than saying, “Sorry.” It is an act meant to convey your deep-felt sorrow for having committed the act or saying the words. A single word is rarely adequate to propitiate. 

Why do we feel compelled to propitiate? And why is it so important? Because it really deals with trust. You show an act of kindness so the person knows they can trust you and the negative act or words were unintended. It is unlikely you would feel compelled to propitiate to a stranger. A simple “Sorry” suffices if you cut a stranger off. But a friend, someone you trust and want to trust you requires more if you value the relationship.

This is not to take away from the value to giving to others. This is the season of giving. But is it giving if you saddle yourself with debt? How will the people close to you, and that trust you, feel if you cause personal money problems because you gave too much?

I strongly feel the pull of charity. Life has been very good to me. However, I measure carefully the gifts I give. I do not want to enable bad behavior or make matters worse. Working through money problems is hard, but gives you the skills to survive the rest of your life without much outside help. There is something to be said about that. 

 

Christmas Present

While Scrooge learned to share with all after the visit from the Christmas ghosts, he focused his giving where it did most good. Scrooge understood propitiation. The fat turkey was sent to the Cratchits’ household; extra coal for heat was allowed at the office. 

The pages of my copy of A Christmas Carol are yellow with some pages torn. The book has been with me a very long time. I think I bought it when I was in junior high as part of a book drive at school. I thought it was a book of Christmas songs, if memory serves. I was unenlightened in my youth. Time has remedied the issue.

Periodically I pull the text from my shelves for a reminder on how to live life right. I look back in my life to gather a full assessment of where I have been. Everyone has things they would rather have forgotten. But in the dark brutal honestly is the only way. 

After reviewing your past, take an inventory of the present. Life, you will find, is probably a lot better than you allow yourself to enjoy.There are so many things to be grateful for: family, health (you are alive and reading this, right?), neighbors (they are better than you think), community and so forth.

Once you review your past and take an inventory of the present, you can create the future most desirable to you. Money problems can be addressed, love rekindled with your spouse or significant other, serving in your community where it benefits most. Remember, you cannot control what “they” do, but you have complete control over what “you” do and think.

 

Pay-It-Forward

If you want to pay for the meal of the person behind you, go for it!  It was not my intention to dissuade you from such behavior. There is something heart-warming about the activity. Even this weary-eyed blogger has paid for the groceries of an older lady at the grocery store when he saw the need.

The greatest gift of all.

Be sure to focus your gifts where they will produce the intended outcome. 

A final story: Years ago I was coming home from work in a snow storm. Tax season was getting long and I was tired. The car in front of me lost control, a snow drift throwing the car. He ended up in the ditch.

I stopped to make sure the young man was unharmed. People didn’t have cell phones in those days the way we do today, so I offered to drive him home. He accepted. 

As I dropped him off at his home he asked me what I wanted for the ride, indicating money. I waved my hand “no”.

He was a young gentleman and it was obvious he was not financially flush. I didn’t help him with the intention of earning a fee. The good feeling knowing he got home safe was enough.

I left the young man with these words: “The next time you see someone in need, you help them. That is all I ask.

 

That was a very long time ago. Sometimes I wonder if the young man ever carried out my directive. 

Please don’t think I am against giving. Gifts to friends, family or co-workers is a fine activity. Keep it reasonable so nobody suffers financially as a result.

Helping strangers is the ultimate charity. Homeless and abuse shelters are wonderful ways to give where it makes a large difference to those who really need help.

Some gifts are debts. You may hear of propitiation at church this Christmas season. You may wish to appease a family member or friend you treated poorly to regain trust. 

No matter your reasons, always be ready to pay-it-forward. Just never do more harm by the giving.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS, kind readers. May the spirit of the season be with you and your family all year round. 

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

cost segregation study can reduce taxes $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here. 

The debate has been played out many times on social media. What is the best personal finance book of all time? What is the oldest really good book on money, personal finance and wealth? 

Many titles get a nod. The same names crop up again and again and for good reason. But one book is always missing from the list; a book brimming with massive advice on money and wealth. It amazes me people in the personal finance community always miss it.

Of course, I’m talking about the Bible, and what better time to discuss personal finances and the Bible than Christmas?

Before you click away, reconsider. I know some of you are not people of faith. I get it. I know some of you are devout. I get that too.  For both groups, and everyone in between, you might want to take a seat and digest the following information. You might be surprised at what you have been missing. There is at least several dozen Ben Franklin’s worth of money advice in the Bible. And you have a front row seat this evening as we engage a brief review.

 

A Proper Reading

There is a reason many people have lost faith and why people of faith have missed so much good stuff in The Good Book. They have been reading the Bible wrong. 

There are three ways to read the Bible: as a historical record, devotionally and as Living Literature.

People of faith dig in for the devotional inspiration and faith building. People like me want to pick apart the historical record and get lost sometimes on the difficulties between secular discoveries and Biblical teachings.

While a devotional and/or historical reading is appropriate, the Bible is best read as Living Literature.

So what is Living Literature? Living Literature is a way of reading a book where you search for significance applicable today. Archetypal stories are a perfect example. The story of Cain and Able and the first murder resonates with people throughout time.  Contemporaries understood the meaning. So did folks in the Dark Ages all the way to modern times. The same can be said for virtually every story in the Bible. If you read carefully you will see how it still applies as much today as it did to people at the time it was written down.

Lutheran Study Bible I use regularly for wisdom and financial advice.

Money tops the list! Stories about wealth and money are everywhere in the Bible, but piled high in the gospels of the New Testament and Proverbs in the Old Testament. 

All the books on money and wealth we claim are best on social media surveys all find their roots in the Bible.  

The book of Job is about having massive wealth—like being the richest man on the planet wealth—and losing it, dealing with the emotions and eventually winning it all back again and more. Not only did Job lose his wealth, he lost his health and family. He was one hurting dude and through it all he kept his head up and his wits about him as his friends chastised him. Unless you never faced a money challenge in your life, Job might be a good book to read. I recommend a Bible with plenty of notes so you understand what was meant by their actions as it pertained to them back in their day. Might I suggest the Lutheran Study Bible. It’s my favorite study Bible to better understand what I’m reading. Consider it a good investment.

 

Money Wisdom

Time for money advice that has stood the test of time. 

I will start with Proverbs. (Know that all I share here is a small example. Proverbs is brimming with financial advice for living a better and wealthier life. I only scratch the surface in this post.)

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gather little by little will increase it. Prov. 13:11*

Get-rich-quick schemes have been around since the beginning and this might be the earliest warning against such foolishness. And what do you know, dollar-cost-averaging made the list! Slow, but steady is the only way to accumulate wealth that lasts.

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave to the lender. Prov. 22:7

Looks like Dave Ramsey didn’t say it first. I rail against debt often enough on these pages and for good reason. (Boy, I caught heck for publishing the post linked.) Almost all money problems start with overspending and debt. Debtors will do things to keep the lender happy normal people would never consider doing and Solomon knew it all those thousands of years ago.

Financial independence is a worthy goal; poverty does not bring the best out of us; debt is an acid that destroys the vessel which hold it. The wording in this passage is brutal: we are slaves to the lender. Now you know why the root of mortgage is death pledge.

Know the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure generations? Prov. 27:23-24

This is why you need an annotated Bible. People without a farming background may not understand the significance of these words. “Know your flock” is like saying “Pay attention to your investments.” Wealth is fleeting. Many things destroy wealth and quickly. Wealth accumulates slowly through consistent effort, as we saw above.

The last part (does a crown endure generations?) is more about wealth than money; it’s about your legacy. Dynasties make the historical headlines and they all have one thing in common: they end. They usually end because later generation took their wealth for granted and therefore lost it.

Proverbs has a lot to say about leaving a legacy, as well. I’ll let you read Prov. 13:22 on your own.

 

One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor. Prov 17:18

and

Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, why should your bed be taken from under you? Prov. 22:26-27

Both these verses tell a similar story: don’t co-sign a loan except in the rarest of instances and only if you have the means to cover the entire debt yourself! 

Co-signing a loan IS a personal debt! As long as that debt is outstanding you are liable. My study Bible has this note for the first verse above:  While God’s people should be generous, especially in matters of forgiveness and love, we are to exercise wisdom and prudence in temporal affairs.

Isn’t this what virtually every book on those social media lists say? When you really think of it, it is exactly what personal finance bloggers (including this one) say continuously. The message hasn’t changed in 5,000 years! This stuff works and always has!

 

Modern Financial Advice

Now we get to move a bit closer to modern times, relatively speaking. Time to talk about all the money advice Jesus gave.

This may surprise the bejesus (a carefully selected word for this instance) out of you, but over half of all Jesus’ parables were about money and/or wealth. That’s right. Jesus spoke more about getting rich than about prayer or faith. The message is clear: God wants you to be rich right here on His green earth!

Once again I encourage you to grab a Bible to read all the stories because we only have space for a tiny fraction of the good stuff. If your library does not have a copy, a local church is sure to be excited to help you out. 

 

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field. Matt. 13:44

Of course there are many layers of meaning to these words of Jesus. I’ll let you explore the additional, more spiritual meanings, on your own, as we focus on the earthly lesson involving wealth accumulation.

This parable, like so many, seems to encourage bad behavior. Did Jesus just tell people to use secret knowledge to our own benefit? In a way, yes!

Think of it this way. If you find a hidden treasure in a listed stock, would you buy it? Or would you tell the world first so they bought it up, leaving you with crumbs? 

If you discovered oil under a tract of land you might be tempted to sell everything you have to purchase said land. And there is nothing wrong with that! No more wrong than doing the same thing to gain everlasting life!

Notice Jesus did not tell you to steal the treasure. If you discover buried gold it is okay to buy the land to get the gold. Stealing is not allowed. 

The same applies to business. If I discover a new tax break the IRS did not recognize, I am free to exploit that to my benefit and that of my clients. If Elon Musk invents a new way to produce electric cars he is free to patent his invention to secure his discovery and make oodles of money off it. 

The Biblical terminology is different from today because the world when Christ walked the earth was different from today. Replacing farming terms (fields, animals) with technology and inventions brings clearer understanding. 

In other words, Jesus gave you solid advice to take steps to secure your wealth, including the accumulation of wealth. It is no different than the behavior you should have when you discover the blessing of Christ and his promise of heaven.

The best personal finance book ever written!

Now we turn to my favorite parable about money. It is a bit longer so I want to tell it in modern terms with comments interspersed. You can read Matthew 25:14-30 for the original.

This is a story about a business owner with three employees. The boss had to leave on an extended business trip so he decided to leave some of the company resources with his team. 

To the first employee he gave $50,000 to manage, the second he gave $20,000 and the third $10,000. He determined how much he would entrust with each employee by their level of experience and skillsets.

Now the employee given $50,000 started to invest the money. He put some in an index fund, but most was used to buy quality investments that were priced very reasonably, if you know what I mean. Through hard work, research and shrewd planning, the first employee knocked it out of the park and turned the $50,000 into $100,000.

Likewise, the second employee invested and traded, turning the $20,000 into $40,000.

The third employee took a different approach. He placed the $10,000 he was entrusted with into a napkin and buried it in the ground so he would not lose any of it.

Then the employer returned from his business trip.

He visited with the first employee. “Well, boss,” the employee began, “I took the money you left with me and put a bit into an index fund so we could at least track the broad market. The rest I used to buy assets that were worth more than the seller was asking. A few additional business investments, along with dividends, has turned the $50,000 you gave me into $100,000.”

The employer was delighted! He sang praises to the first employee, and said, “That is remarkable work, my friend. You have performed so well I want you as a permanent part of my business. I started a new division in my company while on the recent business trip. You are the perfect person to run that part of the business. The salary is quite large with plenty of benefits.” The employer patted the employee on the back with a huge smile. “Welcome to the team, son.”

Then the employer visited the second employee. “Well,” said the second employee, “thing were not easy. For a while I thought I might suffer a loss and somebody tried to hack our computer system and steal our assets. But, I kept at it, found good talent to help me get the problems solved and, can you believe it, I turned that $20,000 into $40,000!”

“Believe it!” said the employer. “I had no doubt in your abilities to rise above challenges. For your honest and faithful work I want you as a permanent member of this company. You will get the full package: stock options, pension, massive salary, the works, for this management position.”

Then the employer turned to the third employee. “Well, ah,” started the third employee. “I know you are a hard man, sir, working diligently for your money and would take no risk of losing money, so I buried your money in the ground for safekeeping.” He held out the dirt covered napkin with the $10,000 wrapped in it.

“You idiot!” screamed the employer. “If you know I am such a hard man you would know burying money in the ground is losing money due to lost opportunity cost.” The employer turned, yelling, “Security!”

When several members of security ran in the employer said, “Take the $10,000 from this man and give it to the first employee. Then throw this man out into the street to live with the vermin.

The parable ends with:

For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Matt. 25:29

I think this parable is a powerful statement on our world today as we deal with and complain about income inequality and fairness. I recommend you read and re-read this story again and again and how it neatly fits as much in our world today as that of 2,000 years ago.

Yes, I know I used small amounts of money to tell the story. That is the point! If you do not act diligently with even small amounts entrusted to you, how can you expect to be entrusted with much? 

If this story were not in the Bible and instead in the latest book from a guru in the FIRE community, all of us would be tripping over ourselves to sing the praises of such an enlightening and informative message. Those that have will be given more, and those who don’t even try will lose what little they have.

People want to gamble with their money (time the market) for a quick buck, but refuse to start and maintain an adequate retirement funding plan with accounts that offer tax incentives. Is it really that hard? Do you really want to be the third employee?

 

Final Words

Perhaps the most important financial advice in the Bible comes from 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is the root of all evil. (KJV)

Money is not bad; greed is. Working to have money is of vital importance and God places money and wealth front and center. I see so many people suffering financially because they believe “money” is the root of all evil, when that is the furthest thing from the truth. It is the “love” of money that is the problem. Avoid that and you are golden.

There is so much more financial advice than that just in the four gospels and Proverbs. Of course, if you are serious about wealth, you might want to read the entire Bible as Living Literature. The stories still resonate and for good reason. They are archetypal stories dripping with significance. Virtually every bestselling novel and movie can be traced back to some story in the Bible. You just didn’t know it.

Money and wealth are important. And yes, God wants you to be rich. Really rich! Not just in financial terms, but in physical, mental and spiritual terms as well. 

Be the first or second employee. Never succumb to the temptation of the third employee

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

 

And God bless us, every one. 

 

* All quotes are from the English Standard Version, except where noted.

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

cost segregation study can reduce taxes $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here. 

The seven deadly sins, or cardinal sins, have been with us a very long time, outlining behavior we must avoid if we are to live a good life. 

The other side of the seven deadly sins are the seven virtues. For every destructive behavior there is a twin virtue. Achieve the virtues and you find the much sought after Holy Grail of wealth and happiness. 

There was also another, 8th, cardinal sin. In addition to Envy (at another’s success), Wrath, Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth and Pride, we were also warned of something called acedia. Acedia is hard to translate from Greek to English exactly. It can mean despair or despondency. It is more than sloth or laziness. Acedia is giving up hope.

Acedia sounded slightly like what the monks were doing—giving up on life for a secluded life in a monastery. To solve the problem acedia was merged with sloth since there were similarities. 

Acedia  is a leading cause of financial problems for many people because acedia also includes an outlook of gloom and despair. Losing hope is the most destructive thing that can happen to you because is gets you to stop trying to do the right thing. The “what difference does it make” attitude ends all chances for better days. If these feelings of hopelessness become chronic you will suffer both physical and mental illness, profound sadness (emptiness and complete lack of joy) and destruction of wealth, if any yet remains.

Let’s take a look at the seven deadly sins and their polar opposite virtues before digging into fixing these attitudes before they do any more damage.

The Seven Deadly SinsThe Virtues
LustChastity
GluttonyTemperance
GreedCharity
SlothDiligence
WrathPatience
EnvyGratitude
PrideHumility

 

The Danger of Acedia

Acedia, or apathy and all that entails, leads to serious behavioral issues guaranteed to destroy all forms of wealth: mental, physical, spiritual, financial. 

The seven deadly sins are not a religious construct! Yes, we get the cardinal sins from the Catholic Church, but they are nowhere to be found in the Bible. These sins are not spiritual behaviors. When we see things like lust, greed and envy in others we are instantly turned off. 

The cardinal sins are not meant to convict. The seven deadly sins are the first step in outlining the proper behavior for a good life. When we see chastity, charity and diligence in others we are attracted to them. We trust them and for good reason. They have the virtues we all recognize as beneficial and helpful.

Once despair (or apathy or hopelessness or despondency) sets in it is a spiral down.

Think of it this way. Once you give up hope on your finances because the bills are too large and the debt a burden, bankruptcy is not far behind.

Not all bankruptcy is acedia. Medical bills can take over and a virtuous person will take proper steps to provide adequate medical care for her family members. If the cost is too significant the only choice is bankruptcy. (This is a United States issue mostly so readers from outside the U.S. will just have to take my word for it.)

 

Living the virtues is the only path to lifelong happiness.

 

The real danger of acedia (apathy) is refusing to take the proper steps to live a good life. Not funding your retirement account adequately means hardship in old age. Investing spontaneously in hot stocks instead of investing with index funds is also a form of acedia. Timing the market also falls within the purview of this vice. 

Living for today as if tomorrow will never come may seem like a happy life to the outside world, but it is really a form of despondency known as a cardinal sin for thousands of years. Eating a poor diet and not exercising to preserve and prolong your current health advantages is also a form of giving up encompassed by acedia.

It sounds so simple to just say “Despond” or “Despair”. The vice is much more pernicious! Like most vices, it creeps up slowly until it has you firmly in it’s grasp. 

Lifestyle creep is an excellent example. As your income increases it is easy to up your spending. You reconcile your spending as “deserving it” for working so hard. Instead of making money work for you; you now work for money as debt has a serious price: interest payments.

 

 

Building Virtues

“Thou shalt not’s” have a negative vibe. Tell someone not to do something and before you know they are up to their hips in it. 

Rather than preach against the cardinal sins and the 8th deadly sin of acedia, I will focus on encouraging the virtues.

Saying “Don’t lust” is easier said than done. Asking you to consider chastity is more likely to get positive results.

This is a financial blog. Telling you not to be greedy might go against what you interpret as success and financial independence. Instead, I encourage charity; the virtue opposite greed. Trying to not be greedy is practically impossible. But an attitude of charity and giving seems natural and something we want to do. Don’t confuse greed with merely having financial wealth either. Money is not a problem. Even large amounts of money are fine. The “love” of money is the problem and that is where greed resides.

Envy is a vice we all fall prey too. Envy is more than mere jealousy. Envy drives you to anger when someone else is successful. Hating someone because they won the race or retired earlier than you are good examples. You should never compete against someone “out there”. You are the only person you should compete against. The age you retire or reach financial independence is irrelevant. You may have had more medical issues or your friend may have had a push from an inheritance. 

You kill envy with gratitude. Regular readers know how strongly I feel about paying-it-forward, especially to those who will never be able to pay you back or even know it was you that provided the gift. 

It is impossible to feel envy while you are giving. Not all giving is financial either. The greatest gift doesn’t always require money to fix it. I once held the hand of a very old client (92 years old, if memory serves) over the Christmas season as she sat in a nursing home waiting to die. All her family was gone, dead from old age. I went to visit her because I knew she was nearing the end of her life. The next morning she was gone. Money does nothing in those situations. A soft smile and warm hand is worth more than all the money in the world and it was in my power to share, so I did.

To turn away is acedia. Paying-it-forward is the virtue. So is a smile and a kind hand. 

 

Practicing Virtues

What is your greatest weakness, your greatest vice? Is it pride? Then practice humility and serve without expectation of even a shred of recognition for your service. 

Perhaps you suffer from lust. The internet makes it easier than ever to satiate (maybe that isn’t the right word since lust feeds on itself) your desires. If so, you need to practice chastity in thought, word and deed. You may need professional help if the disease has taken root too deep.

A 2009 study indicated men confessed to lust more than any other deadly sin and women acknowledged pride as their greatest struggle.

This isn’t a universal statement, only the results of a single study by Fr. Roberto Busa, a Jesuit scholar. Each individual is different. If greed is your greatest vice, then this is where you need to focus attention. 

Greed is frugality gone too far. We see this with bloggers preaching the good news of early retirement by extreme poverty. It becomes a sickness which frequently leads to envy. Greed goes too far when there is no room for charity. Greed goes too far when it comes at the expense of you and your family’s well-being. 

We are all different. The virtue we most admire is the one that might need the greatest attention. A through examination of our-self might reveal one or more vices harming us and those around us. 

Benjamin Franklin worked on virtues every day of his adult life. He would check off each virtue he held true to that day. He failed often and admitted it.  Perfection was not the goal. Perfectionism is akin to pride. The goal was to improve each day and do so in an honest manner.

It is the attempt at growing the virtues in our life that matter.  Some of the vices are destroying your financial wealth. The old 8th deadly sin is far more pernicious than most of us suppose when it comes to wealth. 

If we can reduce greed, lust, apathy, pride and envy in our life we become better people. Our friends and family benefit since this is a form of paying-it forward and leading by example.

It is the Christmas season as I write this.  We have all received so many gifts. We can give so much of ourselves. This is more important than another trinket or cash.

It isn’t excessive frugality either. It is called gratitude. Gratitude for our family, neighbors, friends and community. A cheerful “Hello!” accompanied with a wide smile all year round is a true sign of a well adjusted individual committed to the virtuous life.

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

cost segregation study can reduce taxes $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here. 

It is hard to believe that 100 years ago in the United States — the Land of the Free — women did not have the right to vote. That right was not granted by the Constitution until 1920 when the 19th Amendment was finally ratified by Tennessee on August 18th, the 36th state to do so, surpassing the required two-thirds necessary to add an amendment to the Constitution. Ratification was certified on August 26, 1920, giving women the legal right to vote nationally.

It seems like women enjoyed suffrage forever. We take it for granted these days. But that is not the historical truth. 

After the Civil War the 15th Amendment was added to the Constitution (1870) granting African-Americans the right to vote. Well, actually, African-American men were granted the right to vote. You see, it was felt the amendment would not get ratified if women were also granted the right to vote so women were, once again, excluded.

As with most things in life, changing the rules so people get treated fairly does not provide a clear demarcation between the bad old times and a New World Order. Yes, women could now vote in national elections and did so a few months later on November 2nd. President Warren G. Harding won that election. However, serious issues and stigmas still remained.

Prior to the 19th Amendment women had a lot more risk than just voting rights. Women could not own land nor had a right to money they earned in many cases. Some states, Wyoming for example, extended suffrage to women much earlier on a state and local level. When Wyoming joined the Union they kept women’s suffrage in their Constitution. 

The Landlord’s Game

Even after women’s suffrage, men frequently took credit for the efforts and discoveries of women (and took all the recognition and cash as well, I might add). For example, the Monopoly board game is credited to Charles Darrow who pockets over a cool million dollars for the achievement. Too bad he stole (technically he bought it) the idea from Elizabeth Magie who is the real inventor of the board game around 30 years earlier, called The Landlord’s Game. For such brilliance Magie received about 500 bucks. 

Games are kids play compared to what was done to Rosalind Franklin. James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick are credited with discovering the double helix of DNA. However, it was Franklin who did the pioneering work that led to the discovery. To add salt to the wound, Watson and Crick received the Nobel Prize four years after Franklin died. They gave the barest of acknowledgements to Franklin’s contributions.

I don’t want to get bogged down on the inequities women have faced and instead want to focus on their contribution. Celebrating the incredible work women have done (and are doing) is certain to benefit women more than complaining. We can’t change the past, but we can do something about the here and now. 

Women bring something different to the table than men. This is a good thing. Women face different challenges. The differences are what make us stronger. Women are different biologically. This alone gives women serious ability to contribute on a massive scale in a way men cannot. 

Let’s take a look at how women are changing personal finance, the FIRE (financial independence/early retirement) community and changing the world for the better.

 

Against All Odds

What women have accomplished behind the scenes from ages past is nothing short of miraculous. Since universal suffrage became the law in the U.S. women have made tremendous strides in gaining recognition for their work and narrowing the pay gap here and around the world. 

Women have gaining more control over their reproductive rights since the 1960s. But women do have one significant difference from men: they carry all the weight (pun intended) of having a child. Yes, men can provide support and help with child rearing once baby takes her first breath. Prior to that men can only stand by and watch. As a father of two daughters I must confess I was puzzled and awed by the miracle Mrs. Accountant performed inside her, turning a fertilized egg into an infant. But that was all I could do: stare in anticipation.

The November issue of National Geographic is dedicated to women. I highly recommend reading the issue. It is very enlightening. In the issue is the story of Joyce Banda. She is so clear when she says (page 64) financial independence gives women options. And that is what this is all about. Women are not asking for a free ride or a pay gap to their advantage. They just want options so they can live the lives they desire and find fulfilling.

As long as we are discussing the National Geographic issue, there is one more quote I’d like to share. The issue begins with an essay by Michele Norris. She understands men might fear the newfound freedoms and rights women now have. Let’s listen to Norris (page 13). “Actually, it’s not even about equal pay for equal work; it’s equal pay for demonstrably more successful work.”

Men should not fear Noriss’s words. She is stating the obvious. The person, male or female, who performs the best should get paid the best. Remember Rosalind Franklin. She discovered DNA’s double helix and opened the world to massive new medical opportunities. Women like Franklin deserve the praise and financial rewards for their out-performance. If it happened to a man there would be hell to pay (and a lawsuit).

Technically, the challenges facing women are far from complete. It is hard to balance the pay scale when we don’t have control over every employer. It is hard to balance the pay scale when women are different than men. Maternity leave is a major contributor to the pay gap. Mothers definitely are paid less than male and non-parent female counterparts. And neither you nor I can fix that problem in whole.

There is an issue women do have control over. Sunday The Motley Fool had an article by Maurie Backman on the gap in male and female retirement savings. The difference is incredible, or “astounding”, using Backman’s word for the gap. While the same issues are in play — maternity leave, medical issues and family time — there is at least some control women can take to close this gap. 

The good news is that several reports state women are better investors than men because they keep their fingers off the buy/sell button. Less trading gives women an advantage. However, Backman’s article is chilling. Women contribute a mere $1,331 per year on average to their retirement accounts. Couple that with lower Social Security benefits (women take more family and maternity leave, experiencing gap years in their work record) and higher medical costs, and it become clear it is of vital importance women find a way to tuck more into tax advantaged retirement accounts.

All FIRE’d Up

I want to finish this report by calling out several brave women I have followed over the years who have carried the cross of personal finance for women (and men) in a world not always receptive to their message.

It is impossible to mention every woman I’ve read or listened to. I asked my Facebook group for this blog who they felt were the best women teaching in the FIRE community. The list was exhaustive (and exhausting).  Bill Yount said it best when he responded, “All of them.” I agree. It is a crime I can’t cover all of them in this post. However, you can review a serious list of female contributors here

Another place where you can find outstanding female bloggers and podcasters is the Plutus Awards. Here is a link to the latest winners. Notice the numerous categories dedicated to women and the strong showing women are having in other categories. Women are leading the crowd, educating both men and women.

 

Here is a short list of women who have taught me plenty in the personal finance field:

Before FIRE was a thing there was Amy Dacyzyn. She published the Tightwad Gazette in the 1990s. You can buy a copy of all her newsletters in book form on Amazon or borrow from the library. Some of the information is now dated. However, there is so much wisdom is her work it is impossible to walk away without gaining some advantage. 

Liz from the Chief Mom Officer blog is another amazing woman, sharing ideas in the flavor of the Tightwad Gazette. She focuses on family and home. Her no-nonsense approach to money is refreshing.

Fiery Millennials blogger, Gwen, has a interesting story. Her grit is hard to miss and pleasant to watch. I must confess bias since I’ve met Gwen personally on a number of occasions at conferences. She also helped Mrs. Accountant and me figure out my cell phone a few years back so we could use the maps and get back home. Regardless my bias, Gwen is must-read for young adults (and the not so young) looking for a story of a woman who refuses to quit in the face of never-ending life obstacles.

Paula Pant is another blogger and podcaster I highly admire. I also met Paula at conferences, but never spoke with her much. She is the lady who had Suze Orman on her podcast when Orman said she “hates, hates, hates” the FIRE community. Yikes! Paula Pant’s blog, Afford Anything, and podcast of the same name are required reading and listening.

One of the dearest female bloggers (she also has a book out) is Liz from Frugalwoods. She combines my two favorite lifestyles: frugal living and rural living. I never met Liz or her husband. It would sure be an honor. Once again, Liz has a lot of the flavor Dacyzyn brought to her newsletter decades ago.

My last shout-out is for Vicki Robin, another superstar of the FIRE community. Her work with Joe Dominguez is some of the most important personal finance advice ever given. After Joe passed away in 1997, Vicki carried on the work of spreading the important message of responsible finances and frugality. Many people today got their start on the road to financial freedom from Vicki Robin.

 

Outro

This post is hitting its limit. I included plenty of links to fill your reading and listening needs. Regardless your gender, the women in this post are incredible in their ability to teach. We can all learn from their efforts.

My notes have another thirty or so female bloggers I wanted to mention. A taste is sometimes better than stuffing the face with too much all at once. Bookmark this page as a starting point to other female personal finance bloggers and podcasters. Share the message so your friends can enjoy the same high quality work. Share your favorite female blogger/s in the comments.

Finally, I hereby dub 2020 The Year of the Woman in honor of women gaining suffrage nearly 100 years ago. If women accomplished so much in the past 100 years with the deck stacked against them, imagine what they will do in the next 100 years with the restraints removed.

It will be a very different and better place.

 

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

cost segregation study can reduce taxes $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here.