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Joseph Slife

Joseph Slife


Joseph Slife has been a news writer for the Associated Press, a college instructor, and a radio host.

From 1990 to 2003, he was a writer/researcher for Larry Burkett at Christian Financial Concepts and Crown Financial Ministries, and he served as the executive producer for CFC/Crown Radio from 2000-2005.

He first joined SMI's writing team in 2008, before going on to serve nearly six years as senior producer/co-host for WORLD Radio. He returned to Sound Mind Investing in 2017.

Joseph and his wife Joye have three grown sons.

Most Recent Articles

Money Roundup: A Record Plunge, A Risk Reassessment, and More

Here's our latest collection of interesting reads on investing, the economy, and personal finance.

And from the bloggers and pundits...

  • A newfound appreciation for risk (Brendan Mullooly, Your Brain on Stocks). "Given the lightning speed with which we've seen the market both decline and recover in 2020...[investors have] the perfect chance to realign their portfolios based upon a newfound appreciation for what risk is."
  • The permanent portfolio (Michael Batnick, The Irrelevant Investor). As you may know, SMI's DAA strategy is based on the "permanent portfolio" (but we've made what we think are significant improvements).
  • Why is gold rising? (Ben Carlson, A Wealth of Common Sense). The reasons are several.
  • It's almost as if stock prices anticipate the future (Josh Brown, The Reformed Broker). Don't ignore market trends, even if they don't seem to make sense.
  • The ugly scramble (Morgan Housel, Collaborative Fund Blog). This post makes an implicit and compelling argument for maintaining a robust emergency-savings fund.

Comments? "Join the Discussion" below!

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Maximizing Need-Based College Financial Aid

Making a costly college education even more costly is easy: procrastinate. Putting things off could drive up the cost by thousands of dollars.

This is true for two reasons: 1) Some schools give out need-based aid on a first-come, first-served basis, and 2) you have a limited window of opportunity to reposition your income and assets to trigger more aid.

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SMI on the Radio: Becoming a Wise Steward in the Area of Investing (audio and transcript)

Anyone can become a wise and faithful steward in the area of investing. You just need to be teachable!

By 2012, Sound Mind Investing managing editor Matt Bell had 20 years of experience writing and teaching about biblical money management. But then he joined the staff of SMI. And that, he says, is when his education as an investor truly began. In a recent conversation on the popular radio program, MoneyWise, Matt explained some of the key lessons he has learned. They are lessons we hope everyone who is part of the SMI family has been learning as well.

To listen click the play button below — or, if you prefer, scroll down for the transcript.

(And for more radio appearances by members of the SMI team, visit our Resources page.)

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Money Roundup: More Stimulus Ahead, Stay Humble and Teachable, and More

Here's our Roundup for a midsummer's day. We hope you find these articles interesting and helpful!

And from bloggers and pundits...

  • Good things taken too far (Morgan Housel, Collaborative Fund Blog). Want to be a wise investor? Be humble and teachable.
  • The S&P 500 grows ever more concentrated (John Rekenthaler, Morningstar – free registration required). If history is a reliable guide, we could see "a prolonged small-value rally" when the winds finally change, Rekenthaler says.
  • You can't take a financial mulligan (Tim Mullooly, Living With Money). Here's one for you golfers out there.
  • Should you pay off your mortgage? (Mark Miller, Morningstar). Meager interest rates on savings combined with the increase in the standard deduction have made speeding up a mortgage pay-down more attractive.
  • Is it wrong to earn less? (Jim Dahle, The White Coat Investor). An interesting post about "moral reasons" for continuing to work even if you've reached financial independence. (Note: The White Coat Investor is targeted to physicians, but the content is sometimes of general interest.)

Comments? Let us hear from you in the "Join the Discussion" section below.

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The S&P 500: Increasingly Concentrated in a Handful of Stocks

The venerable S&P 500 may seem like a broad index. After all, it reflects the performance of about 500 large U.S. companies and covers roughly 80% of the American equity market by capitalization.

But if you look more closely, you'll see the S&P has grown increasingly top-heavy. A handful of stocks now account for about one-fourth of the index's value.

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Money Roundup: Glittering Gold, Unlikely Doesn’t Mean Impossible, and More

Here's our latest collection of interesting reads on investing, personal finance, and stewardship. We hope you find them helpful!

And from the bloggers and columnists...

To comment on any of these articles, "Join the Discussion" below!

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Now Available: Personal Portfolio Tracker & Fund Performance Rankings With Data Through 6-30-20

We've updated SMI's Personal Portfolio Tracker and monthly Fund Performance Rankings with performance data through June 30, 2020.

• The Portfolio Tracker: The Tracker makes it possible to personalize SMI's fund rankings so you can easily apply our Fund Upgrading strategy to your 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan.

Our fund-performance database tracks the monthly returns of more than 25,000 traditional mutual funds and ETFs. The online Personal Portfolio Tracker is designed to filter that large amount of data and produce a concise report covering only the funds available in your plan(s).

If you're new to the Tracker, watch our introductory video.

• Fund Performance Rankings (FPR): The FPR report is a 38-page downloadable PDF file containing performance data and SMI's momentum rankings for more than 1,600 no-load traditional funds and ETFs.

The funds included in the FPR are selected based on asset size, brand familiarity, and brokerage availability.

Check page 2 to learn how to use the FPR report. Page 3 includes an overview of the 70+ risk categories that will help you compare "apples to apples." Page 4 has explanations of the various data-column headings.

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Mid-Year Financial Review

There has never been a year without twists and turns. But 2020 has been especially unpredictable, with the unfolding of circumstances that have directly affected the personal finances of most of the population.

No one anticipated that a pandemic that would throw millions out of work, or that subsequent legislation would (temporarily) alter many tax policies and authorize direct payments to millions of American households. No one expected the stock market to fall so precipitously (and faster than ever before) or to regain ground in such a remarkably short period.

All that to say, now is a good time — as we enter the second half of 2020 — for a personal financial review, including revisiting your 2020 budget and reviewing your investment plan.

Everyone's situation is different

Just as the coronavirus has had a widely varying health impact — deadly for some patients, almost inconsequential for others — the financial impact has been varied too.

A friend of mine was laid off in April, a direct result of COVID-19. To make matters worse, he lives in a state where unemployment benefits have been held up by a bureaucratic boondoggle. He exhausted his "stimulus" check weeks ago and is now dipping into emergency savings to pay his rent and insurance. (Believe me, he can vouch for the importance of having an emergency fund.) 

Another friend, meanwhile, has suffered no interruption in income. For her, the stimulus check was gravy. Further, she has enjoyed lower car-insurance expenses (her insurer discounted premiums because of reduced driving), and she has saved money by not eating out (restaurants have been closed). So in her case, the past several months have served to strengthen her financial position, not erode it.

What do my two acquaintances have in common? At mid-year, neither is where they expected to be financially.

What about you?

If your income and expenses over the past six months aren't what you expected as you began the year, now's the time to make adjustments if you haven't done so already.

If your situation has worsened, you've probably been forced to make changes by now — perhaps trimming expenses and suspending/reducing ongoing investments. Just keep doing what you have to do to make it through this period. But as things improve, be sure to get back on track with your saving and investing. Commit now — and put it in writing — that when your income situation improves, you'll make saving and investing an immediate priority. (You may also want to commit to retaining some of the expense-cutting you've learned how to do in recent months!)

If your financial situation has improved during COVID-19, have you taken steps to ensure that any additional surplus is used to move you closer to your financial goals?

I know of one family, for example, that didn't "need" $2,400 in stimulus money. They decided to give part of it away (helping them to fulfill a goal of expanding their giving) and use the rest to speed up debt repayment (helping them move closer to their goal of getting out of debt). They made other changes in their budget as well (in light of slightly improved cash flow), enabling them to invest more in a retirement account each month.

You can't "set it and forget it"

In some ways, it would be nice if finances were static — a "set it and forget it" thing. But that not realistic. Something is always changing, whether it's tax withholding or the cost of groceries.

We're not suggesting you obsess over every jot and tittle of your financial life, but being a wise and faithful steward does involve awareness and, when necessary, action. As Proverbs 27:23-24 says, using language suited to an agrarian culture, "Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever."

So as the last half of 2020 stretches out ahead, be sure you "know well" your financial situation. And, in light of what has unfolded over the first half of the year, make any necessary alterations — especially if you're able to make changes that move you closer toward your goals.

Perhaps a few of the articles SMI has published this year (see column at right) will help. 

What financial changes have you made because of the pandemic?

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Projecting Your Social Security Retirement Benefits

The idea behind Social Security retirement benefits is simple: you pay in during your working years, and in return, you receive a steady stream of income during your retirement years. But that simple idea is remarkably complicated in its implementation. Social Security has more than 2,700 separate rules governing SS benefits.

Figuring out which of those rules apply to you — and how to use them to your best advantage — is a difficult task. That’s doubly true if you’re married. Couples must contend with rules that interact, thus creating many additional variables that can affect future benefits. In some cases, a wife (or a husband) may be eligible for “spousal benefits” based on the other person’s earnings.

Since Social Security likely will account for a significant portion of your retirement income, it’s wise — and potentially lucrative — to invest time in learning how your benefits are determined and how you can maximize those benefits. Using an online Social Security calculator — or, better yet, multiple calculators — can help.

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Money Roundup: Consumers Pull Out Their Wallets, Be Careful What you Wish For, and More

It is officially summertime! So grab a refreshing cold beverage and enjoy this week's Roundup!

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