Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Achieving Financial Significance

Jan Thompson is a Registered Representative offering securities through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, and advisory services through Securities America Advisors, Inc.  

The information provided in this program is for general education purposes only, and should not be construed as specific investment advice.  Please consult a financial advisor regarding your specific situation prior to implementing an investment plan.

Leslie Basham: Jan Thompson is a certified financial planner who does a lot more than just crunch numbers.

Jan Thompson: I had a couple that I worked with—he was not saved; she was saved. She desperately wanted to tithe; he wanted nothing to do with it. We worked out a compromise where he had no problem with her tithing off of the money he gave her, but she wasn’t going to be tithing off of his money. So she decided she was going to give 30% off of whatever he gave her, and he really didn’t care.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, July 31.

Back before the financial crisis that began last fall, Nancy interviewed Jan Thompson, author of Managing the Money Maze. Jan was concerned back in 2006 about debt and overspending, and in the years that followed, she was proven right. We’re going to hear the final part of that interview and the question and answer time with our audience. We’ll learn how to get out of crisis mode and use money in a significant way.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Jan, we’ve been talking about first getting to a place where you know what’s coming in, you know what’s going out, and you’re committed to spending less than what you’ve earned. For some people, just getting that far would be a huge gain, a huge victory.

Jan: Yes.

Nancy: Getting to the place where you’re debt free, avoiding debt on depreciating items—and you’ve given us some good counsel on that—but you’re really trying to help people get even further than that. To some people, what we just described is like heaven, the most they could ever hope for. But you’re saying, “We want to help people go beyond that into meaningful, biblically based, fruitful use of the resources God has entrusted to them.” That involves some long-term goals and thinking ahead and planning. Help walk us through what that might look like.

Jan: Okay. You can’t even begin to do long-term planning until you understand the short-term plan, so all income that comes in will get funneled into one of four categories before it can even get down to a level where it can be utilized for the mid and the long-range goals.

Those four categories are:

  • giving
  • taxes
  • debt repayment
  • living expenses.

So if you look at all income coming in, it’s filtering off immediately into one of those four categories.

Giving, we’ve talked about.

Taxes, we know we have to pay taxes, though there are some interesting tax planning tools that, if you understand a little bit about income taxes and you use those tools, it can actually free more up for debt repayment and for living expenses, and then ultimately for those mid- and long-range goals.

Debt repayment, we’re going to be reducing that as quickly as possible, getting that down to zero.

And then living expenses, we’re going to be honoring the Lord with how we are living and the lifestyle that we believe honors Him.

Those are the first level of planning cash flow. Everything else then goes into what we call a cash-flow margin account. That means we have extra resources now to start doing some planning—we cannot just exist; we can start building.

With that cash-flow margin, we bring in also the appreciation of assets. That means value in our home; value in our 401K plans, retirement plans, savings plans.

Those all come together and form our ability to develop our long-term goals. What do those long-term goals look like? They can look like financial independence . . . and I truly prefer that word to retirement. I don’t think you’ll find retirement in the Bible, but I do think what you’re going to find is, as you get older and you get wiser and you have honored the Lord with your life, you become very valuable in imparting that wisdom and knowledge to others.

You get to a point of financial independence where you can go anywhere and do anything God asks you to do without a paycheck being the primary driving concern about whether you’re going to do that. That’s the goal I want to see everyone get to.

Nancy: If you’re thinking this way, then you don’t have to live with fear about the future.

Jan: Absolutely. You actually embrace that, and you live with absolute freedom and confidence because you’ve seen God work those principles.

Nancy: Isn’t it interesting that it says in Proverbs 31 of the virtuous woman that she’s not afraid of snow when it comes because she’s prepared for her household, but she can approach the future without fear.

Jan: Absolutely, with absolute confidence, and her husband is proud of her for that as well.

Then that is also an area where you can start planning for educational goals, starting a business, lifestyle desires. I truly believe that God gives us everything to enjoy, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying that vacation, that particular vehicle. There’s nothing right or wrong about anything financially unless it’s the heart motivation that God checks our spirit, or we’re using debt to finance a lifestyle that isn’t appropriate.

Nancy: So if you have the discretionary resources, how do you, either now or down the road, deal with questions like, “How much is enough?” What’s the grid through which you think through some of those lifestyle and value choices?

Jan: It’s partly a function of the area you live in. How much is enough may look different for me living in Southern California than it does you living in Arkansas. What I really enjoy doing is having people describe—if money weren’t an issue:

  • What do you believe God would want you to do?
  • Where would He want you to live?
  • How would you live it?
  • What’s the passion, the burning desire He’s put in your heart?
  • What does that look like?

We take that, and we start putting numbers to it and quantifying it as best we can. Then we look at what age do we want to target being at that—knowing that God can come in and take the best-laid plans we have and amend it at any time—what would it look like for you?

So we get a dollar amount; we get an age; we assess the assets that are currently in place; we assess the savings that we’re going to be able to do. We can actually quantify a number of how much is enough and what that number looks like so that we can then determine with these additional resources (believe it or not you will get to a point where there are additional resources—doesn’t feel like it for many people). 

You start practicing these principles little by little, and as God is faithful in your step of faith to be obedient to Him, He will trust you with more so that He can accomplish His kingdom purposes through you. You’ve quantified that amount; you now know where the additional resources are, and then you can start funding those additional giving goals or education or whatever it is God has put in your heart. But that’s where you get that open hand.

Nancy: Jan, I’m thinking, I know you’re encouraging people early on to begin the planning process and to be thinking toward the future. But I know we have a lot of listeners who are already in the future and are strapped and stretched and living on that limited income. Perhaps their husband didn’t make those kinds of plans, or they didn’t know these principles years ago, How can we encourage some of those listeners about God’s hope and God’s plan for them at this difficult later season of life?

Jan: Well, I tell everyone who asks me that question, “Is it too late?”, I tell them, “Yesterday, it was too late. Today it is not.”

We have a God who is a tremendous economist. I’ve studied economics all of my life, and I am fascinated by it. But I know, as much as I may understand about the workings of how money flows and how to make it work for you, I really trust the One who has entrusted me with whatever He has given me, because He can do what I can’t quantify and figure out.

So the very first thing I would say to anyone in that position is, “Yes. Yesterday it was too late, but today it’s not because we’re going to start taking hold of God’s hand. We’re going to grab hold of these principles, and we’re not going to let go until we see Him bless us through our submission to his principles.”

All I can tell you is He’s done the miraculous. That’s just His nature.

Nancy: Tell us about someone you’ve seen go through a process of getting through survival and then getting into a place of being able to think about long-term goals and coming to where they can invest their life in God’s kingdom.

Jan: One of my very first clients twelve years ago that came in was a new widow. She was 50; her husband was 55. He had been sitting at his computer typing a letter, actually to her, when he fell over with a brain aneurysm and died. They were the poster children for doing everything wrong. She was uninvolved as a spouse, enjoyed a wonderful lifestyle—multiple homes, multiple expensive cars—a wonderful lifestyle, not realizing that it was being financed through leveraging.

She chose to keep her head in the sand, didn’t ask any questions, didn’t want to know what was going on, just truly enjoyed her lifestyle.

Nancy: Now, when you say financed through leveraging . . .

Jan: Meaning debt, but she didn’t know that.

Nancy: She thought they had all these things, but they really didn’t own them, the bank owned them.

Jan: Right. She didn’t know that the bank owned everything that supported this wonderful lifestyle.

When she came in after pulling this information off the computer—her husband had written her a letter apologizing that if anything happened to him, and she was reading this letter because he had proceeded her in death. Here is what she had to work with—it was a small, little life insurance policy, I believe it was around $45,000; a tiny, little pension plan; and then 19 credit cards with a total of $99,000 in debt and an upside-down mortgage on all of their real estate and leased vehicles.

I share her story because she is another woman who came to me, after we had worked through so many difficult issues, who said to me, “Share my story. No woman should be as ignorant as I was. I trusted that he had everything under control, but we never talked about things. When he put things under my nose to sign, I just signed. I didn’t pay any attention.”

Nancy: Didn’t ask questions.

Jan: Didn’t ask any questions, so all of those things she signed were joint mortgages, joint credit cards, all of the things she was enjoying.

Now, very difficult circumstance—I don’t normally recommend bankruptcy—there was nothing. She had no job, no employment, no income, and very little life insurance. The life insurance didn’t even pay off the credit card debt. So in her case, bankruptcy was the only solution, but through that process, she got a hold on these principles.

She went back to school—at 50 years of age—and learned how to use a computer so she could have some kind of a marketable skill.

I’d follow up with her every six months after we had done everything we could to help her work through this survival mode she was in, and she was living within her means. She was honoring the Lord with her income. She will never ever be at a point of significance that she would like to be because of her heart and her love for the Lord, but she is living in financial freedom because she is determined never to let that happen again, and to never let another woman get in the position that she was in.

What’s interesting is that while I am the one who manages all of this for our family on a day-to-day basis, I have a responsibility to my spouse to make sure that he understands what’s going on so that if anything happens to me, he knows how to pick up the pieces of all of this.

So it’s very much got to be, with married couples, a joint effort, great communication, but someone is going to have to take charge and run the day to day. If you have two people who just let it all happen, again, you’re not going to be able to honor the Lord.

Woman: This is sort of a question/comment: I’m so grateful that you’ve touched on what you just said. When my husband and I first got married, I’d always been in the banking industry and management and knew how to handle money. It’s interesting how I really was in sin. I bucked my husband the whole first few years of our marriage about how he dealt with our finances, knowing I could do it so much better, and so he finally gave it up to me. It was terrible. It was the worst thing he could have ever done. We were miserable. I was miserable. It was awful.

So I guess my question is: We’ve gone back and forth; I’ve sort of been convicted now that, as his helpmeet, this is a way that I can help him. He is our sole provider. He works very hard, and if this is a way that I could help him and have my heart right, it’s okay for me to do that. So I’m trying to find the balance of coming together and making sure that he makes the final decisions, but me being able to sit down and say, “If this is a way that I can minister to you, or help take some of the stress off of you . . .” How do I go back, I guess is my question. How do I go back now? I have sought his forgiveness. I’ve done the things that I feel like I should have done, but I want to go back and how do I go back?

Jan: I like the tone that you used—I gave up control. Actually both spouses need to give up control and turn that control over to the Lord, but there are some strategic tools to do that.

In marriage relationships, I find that couples fit into one of four areas financially: They are either motivated by love; they are motivated by security; they are motivated by financial freedom; or they are motivated by power.

You will rarely find a couple who are motivated by the same thing, so—for example, my husband is motivated by love. He has a huge heart and will give everything away—to the last penny—without any thought to himself, but then he will also go on leverage because of his past history. I am motivated by freedom, and I define the difference between security and freedom as: Security is, “We have enough to meet the day to day, so I am at peace.” Freedom is, “We have enough to do everything God called us to do without money being an issue.”

So I was driven by whatever it took to be financially free. That was the price I was willing to pay. You take someone who wants to give all the time and someone who is determined to be free, and you get friction. Those first years, particularly the first year of marriage, were very difficult for us. There was very little income. He wanted to be a great husband and do all the things that were important to a wife, and consequently he would. I love flowers, and he would buy me flowers, but had no way to pay for them, and I didn’t want a gift that I had to figure out how to pay for.

The first six months he felt like to be the godly man in the home, he needed to handle the money. So, for the first six months—this is a man who never balanced a checkbook, had no idea how much was in a bank, had no idea you had to pay bills on time. This is where he says to me, “Honey, don’t embarrass me.” But these are stories we actually tell when we’re doing marriage or pre-marital counseling with couples. This is real life stuff.

So during those first six months I would say to him along the way, because I didn’t have any idea what was going on. I didn’t like that, but I was trying to be the perfect little submissive Christian wife. I would say to him, “Honey, what do we have in the checkbook?” I knew it wasn’t much, but I wanted to know at least, “Are we paying our bills?” “Oh, it’s okay. God’s taking care of it . . . God’s taking care of it.”

Six months into it, I believe we had our first and only bounced check. That was like, “Time-out. Something’s wrong here.” He could see that instead of us working in harmony with one another and complementing one another, we were definitely in conflict. We call it being out of sync where the gears are not operating, they’re just rubbing against each other, and that was creating a tremendous amount of conflict.

So we sat down and we looked at this. “What can we do to maximize my strengths in this area, to minimize his weakness in this area, but to honor the Lord with the way we are operating.”

Nancy: And to honor each other, I think, was your desire as well.

Jan: Absolutely.

Nancy: You weren’t trying to emasculate him or take over the marriage.

Jan: No. Precisely.

So we started something back then that we have consistently done now for thirty years, and that is we have what we call the Thompson family board meeting. We go away once a year somewhere, and we do a marriage checkup, a spiritual checkup, and a financial checkup. We sit down and we look at:

  • How did we spend our money the last year?
  • Did we honor the Lord?
  • Did we blow it anywhere?
  • Are we "missing the boat?"
  • Has God put something on either of our hearts that He wants us to be doing, and what can we do to change that?

We then take that and we go through that spending plan line item by line item and say, “Lord, is this right? Is this right? Is this right?” until we come together during that time and say, “This is a picture of how we believe God wants us to manage our resources through the coming year,” giving Him permission to edit this anyway and anywhere He wants to along the way. Then I take it, and I run with it for the next twelve months.

If anything happens financially in the meantime, we have a setback, a major emergency we hadn’t planned on, a pay change, we stop. We go back to that spending plan, and we deal with it. We always make sure that we have a zeroed out bottom line, meaning that income is equal to outflow.

Nancy: And you are doing this together.

Jan: We are doing this together. I’ve often said to couples, “This spending plan is a picture of the two of you together.” I am not virtuous because I’m a saver, and he is not more virtuous because he will give more freely. God designed us both individually, uniquely gifted. So learning how to blend those differences so they complement one another has brought this energy that we’ve experienced in our relationship.

We’ve seen over these thirty years that we are so in tune with this financial area that we can hardly wait to sacrifice whatever we have to get to that significant stage because God has given us so much vision of what we feel He wants to do with us as a couple—not in the quantity, but in the heart issues, in the heart of where we want to be with Him.

So we now look forward to that annual Thompson board meeting where we can go through this.

What’s been fun, because I am married to a spender, and he’s always got more ideas than the spending plan will support. All I have to do when he says, “Honey, let’s do . . .” I just go to my Excel spreadsheet, I pop that little thing up on the computer screen, and I say, “You find it; I’ll support you.”

What it does is it causes us to dialogue, “What we thought was important when we met at this last planning meeting, you know what? There’s a different priority here. Yes, I do believe God is putting that on my heart, too. Let’s run with that. Let’s take this out, let’s put this in.” The bottom line is it’s always going to zero out, so we’re not debt financing things God has put on our heart to do.

So it’s communicating; it’s creating a fun environment. We get away from the house. We get away from the kids, and we just deal with all areas, with finances just being one of them, but creating that communication, that safe environment where his opinion wasn’t right and mine wrong, but that we would continue to work together to accomplish how God had uniquely gifted us.

Nancy: To follow through on that, as you and Tom and I have talked together this week, it was interesting to me to hear him say that he discovered your gifts and your strengths in this area. So together you come up with the spending plan, the vision, the values, what God wants for your marriage, but then Tom has directed you to implement that, to carry it out, because he appreciates the gifts and the strengths God has given you in that area. So you’re actually managing the day-to-day aspects of the finances but without in any way lording it over him. You are in this together still.

Jan: Right. We have often told people, “This is our plan before God. It is not Jan’s plan that she’s managing, and it’s not Tom’s plan. It is a melding of the reflection of how we believe together God wants us to manage these resources.”

While he may not be in the day-to-day trenches with me, he doesn’t want to be there, and quite frankly I don’t necessarily want him there because his gifts are in so many other areas, so why not maximize whatever this is that God gave me to put this crazy desire in my heart to do this. He’ll actually do this: He’ll say, “I made a spiritual decision to empower my wife to do this,” and it has been the most liberating thing in our relationship.

The challenge is when neither of the spouses want to deal with this, and no one will take . . . someone has to be responsible for the day to day. It may be the husband, it may be the wife, but it has to be someone who will run with it and work with it. But make sure that the two of you are communicating in dealing with this as a couple.

Nancy: You’ve also made a commitment as a couple that has protected you both in the area of impulsive spending. Tell us about that.

Jan: Another non-negotiable earlier on in our marriage was that neither of us would ever spend more than $100 on anything without taking 24 hours to pray about it. We did that because we didn’t want to go down that road of impulsive spending. We still to this day hold fast to that rule. There is no offer anyone can ever make us that’s only good for today. It’s an automatic, “No. You are going to wait 24 hours, or God doesn’t want that for us.”

Nancy: One hundred dollars thirty years ago was a lot bigger deal to you than it is today.

Jan: Right.

Nancy: But you still, even though God has blessed you with greater resources today, don’t want to violate that principle of impulsive spending.

Jan: We don’t. Whatever it is, it’s not that important that it can’t wait for us to make sure that God has given us the freedom in both of our spirits. Again, every spending decision is a spiritual decision. If I’m going to give an account to Him, I’d better make sure, if this wasn’t in the original plan that He set out for us at that last board meeting we had with Him, that we have got His permission to go down this road.

Nancy: Can you think of a time when that policy proved to be really a protection and a blessing?

Jan: Yes. When microwave ovens were big, and Tom thought for sure I needed one, and I would have loved to have had one, and he was hot to trot to go right out and make sure that Jan had a microwave. Again, his love for me created that impulse of, “We’ll figure it out.” But, praise God, this is an area where I’ve seen him grow so much because freedom is so important to me, and he has deferred those desires to allow me to be in a place where we are building freedom. He did choose not to buy me that microwave oven, and, you know what? We didn’t miss it. I’m not a great cook anyway.

Nancy: Well, he felt more freedom to wait on that decision because you weren’t demanding that you get a microwave oven.

Jan: That’s exactly right, and women—or men—who make demands on spending decisions, that does create an enormous amount of conflict.

One of the biggest challenges I have in working with couples is when one spouse is committed to these financial principles and the other one wants nothing to do with it. I won’t begin to tell you that there is one solution I can give you other than, I so believe in God’s chain of authority, and a woman’s submission that I believe God can work on that spouse if you will work on the areas where you can control things. 

I look at it as a circle of control and a circle of concern. We can’t do everything about the things that concern us, so let’s deal with what we can control. We can control what little bit of cash we may have, and we can honor God with whatever resource we may have. It may be just a tiny little bit, but you have control over that, and you can honor the Lord with how you deal with that.

I had a couple I worked with—he was not saved; she was saved. She desperately wanted to tithe; he wanted nothing to do with it. We worked out a compromise where he had no problem with her tithing off of the money he gave her, but she wasn’t going to be tithing off of his money. So she decided she was going to give 30% off of whatever he gave her, and he really didn’t care. The challenge, though, was getting her to honor God with all the other principles because she had a tendency toward spending.

That’s just one example of what you can control. You can still take all of these biblical principles and apply them and trust God for the areas you can't control,

Leslie:  That’s Jan Thompson, author of Managing the Money Maze. The book will not only help you weather a financial crisis with solid principles, it will also help you move from crisis mode to a life of financial significance for God’s kingdom. When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you the booklet along with today’s conversation on CD. You’ll also get the teaching from Nancy that has given so many women hope in the middle of crisis. That CD series is called Hope for Uncertain Times.

Today is the final day we’ll be making this offer. So donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com to get your copy of the book and two CD series. You can also call us at 1-800-569-5959.

On Monday, find out what it means for God to be your shepherd. I hope you’ll be back for that new teaching from Nancy. She’s back with a final thought.

Nancy: I so appreciate Jan Thompson’s good advice on managing money wisely, setting priorities, and planning ahead. We've been trying to help you plan ahead on some exciting opportunities taking place next year.

Ever since the True Woman '08 conference sold out last fall, listeners have been asking us, "When are you going to have more conferences?" True Woman is the event Revive Our Hearts hosted in Chicago last year, and now we are pleased to announced three different opportunites for you to experience that conference next year.

True Woman 2010 is coming to Chattanooga next March and then next fall to Indianapolis in September and Fort Worth in October. This conference is for women of all ages, married women, single women, women in every season of life. So I hope you'll make plans to attend a True Woman conference in 2010.

Starting this coming Monday, you can register for the conference at ReviveOurHearts.com

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

Jan Thompson is a Registered Representative offering securities through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, and advisory services through Securities America Advisors, Inc.  

he information provided in this program is for general education purposes only, and should not be construed as specific investment advice.  Please consult a financial advisor regarding your specific situation prior to implementing an investment plan.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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