Yesterday, I discussed the core tenets of our Agile Personal Finance Manifesto, including what they mean and how we got to them. In addition to the tenets of the manifesto, we have 12 principles that help us to stay on track in discerning whether we are pursuing wealth in a way that aligns with our values.
Today, I'm going to explain a little bit about six of the principles, and how we see them through in our day to day. These are my six principles:
1. Our highest priority is to glorify God with the wealth that he has entrusted to us.
2. We recognize everything we have is a gift from God, and that we can steward God's wealth through consumption, investment, and giving.
3. We embrace and even seek changes to our life and our plans.
4. We remember that our future selves require our attention even though we don't yet know them.
5. We support one another's vocational aspirations.
6. We choose a debt free lifestyle.
Feel free to read on if you want to learn more.
Our Highest Priority is to Glorify God
Each of the core tenants of the agile personal finance manifesto have at its core an understanding that we cannot replace our reliance upon God with our reliance upon money. When it comes to managing our finances, our highest priority is to glorify God with the wealth he has entrusted to us. We also understand that God has specifically called people to live a life of poverty. In the Catholic tradition, these are called vows of poverty, but you can see it all over Protestantism too.
Within the Bible, we are called stewards of God's wealth rather than owners. And we saw Jesus give a drastic call to the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor to follow Jesus. Are we willing to do this?
If we're not willing to give up all we have amassed because of the calling of God, then our pursuit of wealth (financial independence) has replaced the vastly superior pursuit of God.
Our highest priority is not ourselves. Our highest priority is God. This is sometimes tough to remember, but always sweet for our souls.
Everything is a Gift From God
It's tempting for us to think that because we worked to earn our money, that we deserve to use it as we see fit. However, studying the Bible has helped us to learn that money whether in abundance or in lack is a gift from God. As I mentioned earlier, we aren't owners but stewards. Though we've clearly worked for our money (or our money has worked for us), we don't believe that we are somehow entitled to compounding interest or high incomes.
Seeing ourselves as gift recipients and stewards frees us to be less selfish with our money, but it also frees us to enjoy it. We believe that we can steward God's money through spending, investing and giving. While one is not necessarily more important than the other, we want to have a heart that is keen to fulfill God's purposes and not our own.
Of all the principles that we have, this is probably the one that frees us from worry the most.
We embrace change
So, if I were to attempt to predict how long it will take us to achieve financial independence, I think I would be wrong. We're not sure how many kids we want (small pile has been thrown out as a good number). We don't know how many times we will move across the country, nor do we know exactly what we want to do with our life.
The fact that we will have unexpected dreams and plans might surprise us, but it won't throw us off our game. We are officially allowed to change our minds.
We remember our future selves
A lot of our principles seem to be about live now, give now, bless others now. This is true, but we don't want to neglect the fact that in the future our ability to earn money or otherwise support ourselves may be more limited than it is today.
We think that our future selves will share our values, but not our outlook. We're also really hopeful that our future selves will be wiser than we are. As a result, pushing as much money into the future (without neglecting our present selves and current opportunities to give) seems like a wise decision.
This principle is also the principle that has forced us to get life insurance, disability insurance and prepare our wills. It's also why we save for retirement, and otherwise invest. We're not sure what our future selves want to do with money, but we hope they will be thankful that we've invested for them.
We support one another's vocational aspriations
Okay, I went to far too liberal of a university to let this principle slide without saying that vocation doesn't mean job. But seriously, I believe that a vocation is your best life's work. It could be paid, or it could be unpaid. Either way, my husband and I seriously endeavor to make the finances work so that we can together, pursue our shared life's work.
While I have supported my husband through these first two years of grad school, he's been supporting me in my desire to grow my freelance writing career in order to stay home while he finishes up.
Whether our life aspirations change or stay the same, we will continue to support each other's aspirations. This doesn't mean we will pursue every idea with equal intensity or with equal resources. Instead, it means that we won't dismiss an idea or a goal as impossible.
We choose a debt free lifestyle
My husband and I won't take on debt. We feel that it reduces our ability to make decisions and pursue our goals. I realize that this is not an equally easy statement for others to make, and that's okay. You don't have to adopt our manifesto or our principles; I certainly don't consider them absolute truth.
We don't want to take on debt, even so called good debt, because we are not always smart or committed enough to make it work out. Both my grandfather and my dad have used debt and become millionaires, so I understand that it can be done. But, more often than not, I think debt will reduce our freedom in a way that is not aligned with our values.
This is not a death before debt cry, but I would say that we would choose poverty before debt.
This also extends to not giving loans to others. We did it once, and I felt so guilty the whole time. Next time, we will just give a gift or say no.
So those are six principles that help us enact our core tenets. Whether they are beliefs or commitments, these principles help us live out our values on the journey to financial independence.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.