Milk and Honey Magazine financial planner, Hannah Boundy, shares an article on living intentionally with your money and finances as a Christian woman of faith!

Living Intentionally With Your Money

Hannah Boundy

As a financial advisor, I do a lot of writing on the topic of financial planning. I write about how to maximize your retirement savings, how to purchase your first home, and how to build a budget that works for you and while there are certainly a lot of details to keep track of when it comes to financial planning, writing about it is relatively straightforward. When it came time to sit down and write this article however, I found myself dragging my feet. I was asked to write it through the lens of faith which sounds like a simple request but is actually one that carries a great deal of weight – at least it does for me. Like most of his teachings, Jesus had some really radical things to say about money, and the things he said are things that I personally wrestle with everyday both as a financial professional and follower of Christ.

I think it’s easy for those of us living and worshipping in a consumerist culture to hear “the love of money is the root of all evil,” conclude that money is “bad,” and then try to forget about it altogether. But as it turns out, money can’t be ignored. We use it every day. It touches nearly every facet of our lives and I think the story that Jesus tells when it comes to our wealth and our finances is actually a much richer, more complicated one that we’re invited to wrestle with and ultimately intentionally live out.

The number varies by scholar but it’s probably safe to say that money is mentioned something like 2,000 plus times in the Bible. It’s not a topic that the authors ignore. If anything, it’s a topic that’s talked about over and over again and while I don’t have the time or space to cover all of those instances (though I would invite you to dig in yourself) there are a few that I have come to value in my own personal wrestling with the topic.

A few years back I heard a sermon on the Parable of the Shrewd Manager which appears in Luke 16: 1-13. I grew up in a church with Sunday school felt boards, AWANAS, and summer after summer of Vacation Bible School and yet I had no recollection of this story. In another translation, it’s referred to as the Parable of the Unjust Steward and it’s a pretty wild narrative. In the parable, a man is about to be fired when he goes out to all of his employer’s debtors with full knowledge of his impending release and forgives a portion of their debts. He returns to his employer and tells his boss what he did and it says “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” Then in verse 9, it says “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” The call here is very different from a passive approach of dealing with money. The call is to steward it shrewdly. The invitation is to be responsible with your wealth so that you can use it to literally buy people for the Kingdom of God.

One of the coolest parts of my job is that I get to ask people what they want to do with their money. It’s probably the second question we ask when we first meet with someone new (I’ll get to the first question in a moment). Logistically speaking, I can’t build someone a financial plan or invest for their situation without knowing what their goals are. Your intentions for your money matter.

By far the best answer I’ve gotten to this question was from this incredibly sweet woman who had recently come into some additional funds and replied “I want to live generously. I want to tip really well. I want to give nice gifts. I want to buy my grandkids the good shoes and not just the cheap ones.” I think it’s easy for us to set up our 10% tithe online, check the giving box, and call it a day. But that’s not the invitation. The invitation is to live generously every day. To faithfully give to your church but to also “buy” people for the Kingdom of God by daily living with open hands. In a society of clenched fists and “me firsts” this is a really radical, backward way of living, but I believe it is so incredibly life-giving. Generous living is different. It’s counter-cultural. But so was Jesus.

Milk and Honey Magazine financial planner, Hannah Boundy, shares an article on living intentionally with your money and finances as a Christian woman of faith!

And finally, contentment. The second question I ask my new clients is “what are your goals?” but the first question, the question that I think matters the most is “how much is enough?” I cannot plan for “more.” I cannot invest for “more.” How much do you need to meet your financial goals? How much do you need to retire; to rest? How much do you need to be content? Towards the end of his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul talks about learning to be content. Philippians is one of my favorite Epistles because the language Paul uses is so rich in affection for the community he’s writing to. He deeply loves these people and I find it particularly interesting that he talks about contentment in the context of communal living. In what I think is a really beautiful translation of the passage (New Living Translation), he says:

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. (NLT, Phil. 4:10–14)

Sadly, this type of community seems less and less common these days. Instead, we spend hours and hours trying to connect on the superficial internet. What naturally flows out of that is a habit of comparing what we have to that of our peers, and comparison breeds discontentment. I can scroll through photo after photo on Facebook or Instagram and believe that all of my friends spend every waking moment shopping and drinking artisan coffee and living the most glamorous life possible. Or I can call them. I can invite them over. I can open up my home and my heart to authentic relationships, generosity, and ultimately contentment. The early church was all about this kind of living. In Acts 2 it says,

They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (NIV, v. 45-47).

The communal narrative continues in Acts 4:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” (NIV, v. 32-35).

They believed that God would provide and so they freely gave. Everyone had what they needed and because of that, they were able to focus on what mattered: living in communion with each other and God.

So what does this look like for you and for me? I won’t claim to have it all figured out, but I think it starts with dialogue. Money has become a taboo subject and I think that’s a shame. Jesus clearly wasn’t afraid to talk about it and we shouldn’t be either. I think when we start talking about money we begin the process of being intentional about how we use it. I talk about money with my spouse and my close friends all the time – how to best use it, how to be shrewd with it, how to be generous with it.

We want to be responsible with our money, not consumed by it. That means learning about the tools available to us to be smart with our finances, all the while being diligent about building healthy, generous habits one day at a time. I pray you’re inspired to do some digging into what the Bible has to say about money and what that means for you!

Hannah Boundy is a financial advisor at Cedarstone Advisors in Westlake Village, California. She is the author of the personal finance blog The Cupcake Club! She is an avid consumer of cupcakes and, consequently, a begrudging runner. Her research centers around the intersection between seeking out financial value and caring for people, which includes research on behavioral biases, fundamental investing, stewardship, and contentment. She loves books, beautiful pianos, and fireplaces. She resides in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Tom, and her daughter, Brené.