Book review by Anne Campbell, THE HEART OF FINANCIAL MATTERS, SEEKING A SERVANT’S HEART

The Heart of Financial Matters
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The Heart of Financial Matters: Seeking a Servant’s Heart by Eddie Hedges is a biblically based guide to managing money wisely.

Mr. Hedges includes Scripture references throughout the book to back up everything he teaches, and all of his advice is grounded in Scripture. I find this book easy to read and understand, even for someone like me who doesn’t understand finance!

As a former bank executive, Mr. Hedges knows what he is talking about, and he includes anecdotes from his experiences and those of his clients. These examples illustrate the concepts he teaches in the book.

So, what makes The Heart of Financial Matters different from other money management books? Well, first, the emphasis is not on the numbers in your budget, but on what is really the issue: your heart. That concept drew me in right away–“where your heart lies in your relationship with God” is the center of our financial situations.

Mr. Hedges shows how God’s teachings can not only improve the way we handle money, but also help us deal with adversity and reach our financial goals. It really couldn’t be simpler! He also emphasizes that WE must make the decisions and TAKE ACTION to improve our situations; it won’t magically happen!

My favorite part of The Heart of Financial Matters is how Mr. Hedges includes Scripture references throughout the book to support each point he makes. He also includes practical instructions for balancing a bank statement, and he writes about teaching/training children to manage money:

“If they do not learn how to manage money when they are young, are they going to suddenly develop good financial habits when they become an adult? Every day in the life of a child is an opportunity to teach the things that will make their life more successful and happier in the future. Those things of value that we teach our children when they are young will make their life easier when they become an adult.” (p. 95)

Because of its readability and practical advice based on Scripture, The Heart of Financial Matters is a good choice not only for anyone who needs guidance with their finances, but also for teens and young adults who are just starting out so they can begin right.

INVESTMENT EXAMPLES

WHEN WILL YOU FUND YOUR RETIREMENT. Some years ago, there was a commercial on television. The actor who portrayed a car mechanic said “You can pay me now or pay me later.” The message was that you could pay the mechanic for normal maintenance now or if you neglect proper maintenance you will pay for major repairs later. What does this have to do with your money?  Please remember this point when it comes to your retirement.  YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR RETIREMENT SOMEDAY.  Either through systematic savings and investing OR you will have to work longer in life.  But you will pay for your retirement at some point in time, when you are in your younger years or your later years.  You have to set the priority of now or later.  I believe it is much wiser to save and invest and hopefully retire earlier, than to have to work longer in life.  Perhaps when your earning capacity is reduced.

Accordingly, I thought it would be beneficial to show you the impact of constantly investing a portion of your income (10% is the goal) and letting the power of compounding your earnings create wealth.  This is the key to building financial security.  You can see the importance of starting as early in life as possible and letting your investment grow.

$50.00 monthly investment for 40 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $265,555.53.  This is on a total principal investment of $24,000.00.

$50.00 montlhy investment for 45 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $431,342.90.  This is on a total principal investment of $27,000.00.

$50.00 monthly investment for 50 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $698,354.12 from a total principal investment of $30,000.00.

$2,000 annual investment for 40 years @ 5% average annual yield equals $241,599 from a total principal investment of $80,000.00.

$4,000 annual investment for 20 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $229,100 from a total principal investment of $80,000.00.

$2,000 annual investment for 40 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $885,185.00.  This is from a total principal investment of $80,000.00.

$4,000 annual investment for 40 years @ 10% average annual yield equals $1,770,370 from a total principal investment of $160,000.00.

Often I am asked how to get a 10% annual return on investment as I illustrated in my examples. One way would be investing in the Dividend Aristocrats. This is a select group of S & P 500 stocks with 25 plus years of consecutive dividend increases. The “average” annual yield on these stocks from 1991-2017 was 12.9%. The “average” annual yield on the S & P 500 during this same time period was 10.7%. Also, the “average” annual return on the S & P 500 since its inception in 1923 has been 11.7%. Both of these returns are above the 10% example used in my article. Some years show a loss for the year, but over this time period, these are the average rate of annual returns. For the long-term investor, either of these investments would give the 10% yield. In addition, either of these investments would give the investor diversification, which is also very important. Accordingly, money invested at 10% compounded annually will double over approximately 7.5 years.

It is vital to grasp this concept if you want to build financial security.

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Steps to Eliminate or Reduce Debt

An analogy to a person having financial difficulties would be a person who had a heart attack and asks the doctor for a shot or medication that will make him well immediately.  To resolve this health problem, the heart attack victim must go through a change in lifestyle and a rehabilitation program.  To resolve financial problems, you must be willing to change your lifestyle and go through a financial rehabilitation program.  Below are steps to take to get out of debt or reduce your debt.

1.  Write down all the principal balances of each debt you have, beginning with the lowest balance to the highest.

2.  Write down the current monthly payment next to each principal balance.

3.  Review your current  spending habits (financial lifestyle) for changes that could be eliminated  or reduced.  This review could include purchases such as magazines, soft drinks, bottled water, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, memberships, eating out, grocery purchases (start using coupons), travel habits, etc.  I know that this is not going to be fun, but if you are going to reach your goal of reducing or eliminating debt, lifestyle changes must be made.

4.  Cancel all credit cards except one card with a low available balance.  Retain this card only because there are some purchases  which can only be made with a credit or debit card (hotels, rental cars, etc.)  Use this card only in those situations and pay the balance in full when the 1st payment is due.

5.  Of the money saved from step 3, above, add that amount to the current payment being made on the lowest principal balance listed in step 1 above.  Continue the increased payments until the principal balance is paid in full.

6.  Now doesn’t it feel really good to have one debt paid off?  Next move to the next lowest principal balance and add the previous revised payment to the current payment and continue the revised payment schedule until this principal balance is paid in full.

7.  Ok, this has to be exciting when this second debt is paid off, so continue the process of paying off the next lowest principal balance and adding the revised payment to the current payment until you have reached your goal of being totally debt free.

The reason we use the lowest balance first instead of the balance with the highest interest rate is so we can see progress being made and not become discouraged and quit trying.

Life is about setting priorities.  You can become debt free.  When you have accomplished this, you will be able to MAKE MONEY YOUR SERVANT INSTEAD OF MONEY BEING YOUR MASTER.

Change in Price of ebook

UNBELIEVABLE EBOOK PRICE. 

You can now buy an ebook copy of THE HEART OF FINANCIAL MATTERS, SEEKING A SERVANTS HEART, for only $0.99 at barnesandnoble.com and iUniverse.com.  Paperbacks, hardbacks, and ebooks available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and iuniverse.com.

INVESTING RECOMMENDATIONS

1.  Never invest more than 5% of your Capital in one investment.

2.  Diversify your investments in at least 5 different industries.This could be 20% in financials, 20% in real estate, 20% in health, 20% in tech, and 20% in industrials, etc.  You could further diversify into foreign and U. S. stocks and bonds.  Ecclesiastes 11:2.

3.  Have an exit strategy.  Never let a single investment drop in value more than a maximum of 25%.  This 25% exit price should rise as the value of your investment increases.    Use a “trailing stop loss.”  Sell your losers and hang on to your winners.

4.  Do not force your money to impossible earnings or high risks.  Do not speculate with your money.

5.  Guard your principle.

6.  Use a financial advisor or counselor. The study their recommendations prior to investing.  Be educated enough to make an intelligent decision.

7.  Be considerate of your family and make a Will.  Also, make a list of all of your financial accounts, including retirement accounts, complete with account numbers, safe deposit boxes and where the keys are located.  List all life insurance policies and where they can be found.  Then, give all the above information to one or more trusted family members.

8.  Finally, the key to building your investment portfolio is CONSISTENT SAVINGS.  Take a portion of all income and consistently invest it using the recommendations listed above.  I recommend a minimum of 10% of your income to be set aside for savings and investing.  The earlier in life you start savings, the greater your wealth will build.  Truthfully, if you don’t do this, the other recommendations will probably not be useful because you will not have anything or at less very little to invest.

ALL OF THIS INFORMATION AND MORE IS LISTED ON PAGES 64 THROUGH PAGES 66 IN THE BOOK.

About the Cover

I thought you might be interested in the details of the design of the cover.

The color of the cover appears to be a dark brown, but actually it is a deep dark burgandy with the lower 1/3rd of the cover being a deep navy blue.  Burgandy signifies the royality of Christ’s Kingdom, while the blue implies Eternity and that Christ’s Kingdom will reign throughout Eternity.

The letters are silver, with the word “Heart” being in gold.  This was done to put emphasis on the heart and the condition of the heart.  This is also taken from Proverbs 25:11, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold  in settings of silver.”  You have heard of people having a “heart of gold” meaning that they truly cared about other people and their lives were living proof that they were loving, caring people.  Therefore, the emphasis of this book is about the condition of the heart.

There are three crosses, with the middle cross standing out from the other two crosses.  Our lives should be centered on the cross of Jesus and our relationship with Him.  There is a cross on the right and another cross on the left.  The message here is that we have a choice in life.  The cross on the right stands for those who have choosen to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and to live a life as His follower and to live with Him for Eternity in Heaven.  The cross on the left stands for the non-believers who do not believe in Jesus as the only begotten Son of God.  This group of people, according to the Bible, will spend Eternity in Hell.  Each of us individually must choose where we will spend Eternity, but we all will spend Eternity in either Heaven or Hell. As the two thieves that were crucified with Jesus, one chose to believe and the other refused, but they both had the same opportunity to believe.

There was a lot of thought given to the design of the book and each part of the cover carries special meaning.  I trust you will see that as you look over the cover of THE HEART OF FINANCIAL MATTERS, SEEKING A SERVANT’S HEART.

 

WHAT’S INSIDE THE BOOK

The tendency of wealth seekers is to ask for money (loans or gifts) and to turn down wisdom.  Page 5.

You will find that producing wealth is no different than becoming good in any other skill or endeavor.  You must develop individual skills by practicing them until you master them.  Page 10.

You must change your heart before you  change your pocketbook.  Page 11.

In an article in the May 2011 AARP Magazine (Fix the Class Act, Don’t Kill It, by Howard Gleckman), I read that of every ten people over the age of sixty-five, only three will be able to retire financially independent.  Page 13.

Expenses rise to meet income.  Page 13.

Money can become your master.  A master is someone you serve.  You become your master’s slave.  Money is a great servant, but it is a very poor master.  Page 15.

One of the most difficult areas of life to submit to God is our finances.  Page 27.

The kingdom of God is about addition and multiplication. .  It is not about subtraction and division.  Page 33.

Everything in which we are associated should be better because we were a part of it.  Page 34.

British economist and buisnessman, Josiah Charles Stamp said, “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of our responsibilities”.  Page 39

God wants your heart before He wants your money.  Page 45.

Should we save for the future and for retirement, or is this showing a lack of faith that God will Provide.  Does saving for the future show a faith in money instead of faith in God?  Page 57.

When you violate this financial principal, many of the other financial principals will be useless because you will not have any money to invest or grow anyway.  page 62.

Is uncontrolled debt a sin?  Page 75.

 

Fighting Identity Theft

1.  Do not print your address, Social Security Number, or driver’s license number on your personalized checks.  You may want to consider using only your initials instead of your name on your checks.

2.  Never give out your Social Security Number, driver’s license number, or any financial account information, in any situation, in which you did not initiate the contact–telephone, online, or in person.

3.  Check your bank statements immediately upon receipt for unauthorized tranactions.  I recommend checking your financial accounts online daily if possible.

4.  Check your credit report at least annually for inaccurate or unauthorized tranactions or information.

5.  Shred any personal financial information before you put it in the trash–credit card bills, etc.

6.  Get carbon copies from salesclerks of anything that has financial information–credit card and debit card transactions, etc.

7.  Never open e-mails or answer telephone questions from the Federal Reserve Bank, State Banking Department, or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency requesting “verification of personal financial information.”  They may say they are conducting a “secret” audit of the Financial Institution to see if an employee is making unauthorized transactions.  The FRB, State Banking Department, or OCC will not contact individuals directly.  They deal only with the bank.

8.  Be cautious of e-mails stating Urgent, Claim Your Prize, Official Verification, Official Notification, Congratulations, etc.

9.  Never deal with an individual or company that wants money up front to award a prize, inheritance, lottery, etc.

10.  Never open your computer when requested by telephone calls stating your computer has been compromised and they need access to correct the problem.

11.  Your financial institution  will never ask for your username, password, account number, social security number or any other personal or confidential information via email, text message or any other form of electronic communication.

12.  Reconcile your debit/credit transactions to your statement each month to make sure all transactions are legitimate.  Contact your financial institution immediately if you stop receiving your statements or if you see any unusual activity.

13.  Never use your Debit Card to make a payment if the card leaves your sight.  An example of this would be at a restaurant and your server takes to card to the back to complete the transaction.  Also, never use a Debit Card for on-line transactions.

14.  I highly recommend that you check all financial accounts online daily  to look for any suspicious activity.

 

SAMPLE BUDGET

Category                       Suggested % of Budget

Tithe                                             10%

Housing                                        33%

Food                                             14%

Auto                                              10%

Insurance                                       5%

Clothing                                          4%

Savings                                         10%

Medical/Dental                                5%

Entertainment/Recreation              4%

Miscellaneous                                 5%

Based on Take-Home Pay