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Austin Pryor

Austin Pryor

Founder and Publisher

Austin leads SMI, the newsletter business he founded in 1990. With more than 40 years of experience in the investment business, Austin provides overall direction to the organization while continuing to author many articles for the SMI newsletter and web site. Before founding SMI, Austin started and ran his own investment management firm, which ranked in the top 5% of all investment advisers in the U.S. during its first five years of operations. 

He is the author of the Sound Mind Investing Handbook, A Step-By-Step Guide to Managing Your Money from a Biblical Perspective, which enjoys the endorsements of numerous respected Christian teachers and has sold more than 100,000 copies.

Austin was once on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, working directly with founder Bill Bright, helping to develop the ministry’s approach to working with high-capacity donors. He was a founding board member of Pro Athletes Outreach, a Christian training ministry to pro athletes and coaches of many sports, and The Christian Embassy, an outreach ministry to government and diplomatic officials in Washington, D.C.

Austin received an undergraduate degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Kentucky. He and his wife, Susie, have three adult sons and 10 grandchildren, and live in Louisville, Ky.

Most Recent Articles

Make Sure Your Investment Decision-Making Is Inside-Out

SMI believes you can make most investing decisions with little regard for what’s happening in the investment markets. We realize that seems counterintuitive, but let us make our case. Then, we’ll apply it to the question of deciding whether now is a “good” time to sell some of your stock holdings.

Where do investment decisions originate for many investors? The starting point is in the impersonal “outside” world of current events, magazine articles, and “expert” recommendations. Their decisions are guided primarily by outside considerations. As they respond to the data thrown at them — sometimes buying, sometimes selling — their personal “inside” financial worlds take shape. Their thinking is “outside-in.” They need a continual stream of outside information to stimulate their thinking and provoke them to action. Decision-making would be impossible without it.

For other investors, the starting point of decision-making is “inside” information. The focus is on their own financial needs and a personalized long-term strategy designed to meet those needs. Their buy/sell decisions are based on what’s required to ensure their financial holdings are in accord with the game plan.

This is “inside-out” thinking, where decisions are primarily shaped by inside considerations. Thus, current market fads, trends, and “expert” opinions are largely irrelevant to inside-out investors. The “outside” world of investment professionals comes into the picture only when assistance is needed in executing decisions already made.

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If You Want to Arrive Safely, You’ve Got to Stay in the Boat

In Matthew 14, we read of a time when Jesus walked on water and Peter, ever the enthusiast, wanted to join him. So, Jesus told him to “come,” and for the first few steps all went well. Soon enough, Peter noticed the wind, became fearful, began to sink, and cried out for Jesus to save him. As he did so, Jesus admonished Peter for having too little faith.

It’s a vivid call for all Christ-followers to get out of our comfort zones and live boldly.

For investors, however, boldness isn’t always the best approach. Here are reasons why managers of God’s resources usually are better served by staying on board.

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An Upgrading Overview: Easy as 1-2-3

Why Upgrade?

SMI subscribers with a Basic-level membership have access to two investing strategies. These strategies differ in philosophy and the amount of attention required.

Our preferred strategy is Fund Upgrading. It’s based on the idea that if you are willing to monitor your mutual-fund holdings regularly and replace laggards periodically, you can improve your returns. While Upgrading is relatively low-maintenance, it does require checking your holdings each month and replacing funds occasionally. (If you don’t wish to do this yourself, a professionally managed version of Upgrading is available.)

As an alternative to Upgrading, we offer Just-the-Basics (JtB), a strategy based on investing via index funds. JtB requires attention only once a year. The JtB strategy is helpful to SMI members whose workplace retirement plans lack a sufficient number of fund options to make successful Upgrading possible. Here are the funds and percentage allocations we recommend for our Just-the-Basics indexing strategy.

Past returns for both Upgrading and Just-the-Basics are shown on our main page at soundmindinvesting.com. Click the word "Performance" in the middle of the page.

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Lessons From Past Bear Markets – Are You Prepared?

Market analysts are feeling gloomy. A recent “Market Perspective” from Schwab noted, “A sustained [market] drop may weaken both consumer confidence and...spending power — further dampening consumer demand and economic growth.” Morgan Stanley told investors, “We advise taking caution ahead,” noting that “11 of the 14 Fed tightening cycles since 1950 have resulted in recession.”

Among the many negatives confronting the stock market are Russia’s war against Ukraine; the persistence of the pandemic in some places; rising interest rates; and high inflation — with escalating prices for gasoline, groceries, and so much more wreaking havoc on household budgets.

The bears are betting all this will lead to further stock market declines from current levels. The bulls are betting that the concerns are exaggerated. They stand by their contention that the long-running “secular” bull market still has legs.

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6 Principles for a Solid Investing Plan

Investing is rather like riding a roller coaster while wearing a blindfold. You can’t tell when a steady incline will give way to a precipitous decline. And while hurtling downward on an actual roller coaster can be fun (for some folks anyway), market plunges are anything but.

There’s no way to make market volatility go away. It’s an unavoidable reality of investing. But you can stay steady through the ups and downs by employing a defined and disciplined investing strategy such as those SMI offers.

No single strategy is right for everyone, but every good long-term strategy incorporates six core principles.

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Investing That Glorifies God Values His Majesty

Jesus Christ is the greatest of all treasures. He is the King of kings, the Lord of Lords, the Only Begotten Son of the Father who laid down His life for us. In the words of Matthew 13:46 (NKJV), He is the “pearl of great price.” While no other treasure can compare with Jesus, many lesser goods — including money — compete with Him for our attention and affections.

In this excerpt from The Sound Mind Investing Handbook, SMI founder Austin Pryor asks, “Do our dreams and decisions reflect that Christ is our greatest treasure?”

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Which of SMI’s Portfolio Strategies Best Fits Your Personal Situation?

An SMI tenet is that investing decisions should flow from — and be consistent with — a specific investment strategy (or strategies) you have chosen.

For some people, selecting a strategy can be daunting. This overview should help.

SMI offers three “core” strategies designed with the average person in mind. These strategies (two available to Basic-level members, another to Premium members) are easy to understand and relatively simple to implement. But they require different levels of involvement and self-control.

Let’s compare what each strategy demands — and what you can expect in return.

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Resisting Financial Temptations

I want to share with you something I read more than 20 years ago. In context, it was intended to explain how we can have greater success in resisting sin. But I want to make a parallel application in the area of our stewardship — how we can more closely follow God’s principles for spending, saving, investing, and giving the money He has entrusted to us.

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How to Calculate Your Portfolio’s Rate of Return

How did your investments perform last year? It’s an important question and it seems like it should be easy to answer.

However, when you consider any contributions or withdrawals you made and whether you received any interest or dividend checks, the math can start to look much more complex. And, while some brokers do a good job with this analysis, what if you have money at more than one broker?

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SMI’s 2021 Christmas Gift Book Offer

In 1995, I began what has become an annual Christmas tradition: offering, as a gift to our active members, a book that has been meaningful in my Christian life. I do this to express appreciation for your support. Without loyal readers, we could not have served the body of Christ these past 30-plus years.

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