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Matt Bell

Matt Bell

Managing Editor

Matt joined SMI in 2012. He leads SMI’s content strategy — managing the company’s monthly editorial calendar, writing many of the articles, sourcing content from outside the company, and either writing or overseeing much of what appears on our website. He also represents SMI in various radio guest appearances.

Prior to joining SMI, Matt was an independent biblical money management writer and speaker. He is the author of four personal finance books that were published by NavPress, including Money and Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples and The Grad’s Guide to Money (written for high school seniors and college freshmen). He does some outside speaking as well at churches, universities, conferences, and retreats throughout the country. Matt has been involved in stewardship ministry since 1990 when he began serving in the Good $ense ministry at Willowcreek Community Church.

Matt earned an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Northern Illinois University and a graduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from DePaul University, where he wrote a thesis about the history and influence of our consumer culture.

Matt and his wife Jude have three children at home. 

Most Recent Articles

Money Roundup: An Ill-Timed Retirement, Preparing for Risks You Can’t See, and More

Some of the best investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

And from the blogosphere…

We’d love to hear your responses to any of the above. To weigh in, just meet us in the comments section.

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It’s Always Something

Ten days ago, when a U.S. drone strike killed an Iranian general, and days later, when the Iranians retaliated by firing missiles at military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops were housed, your investment portfolio probably wasn’t your first concern. But it was probably somewhere on your list of concerns.

With the drone attack happening right when Dynamic Asset Allocation called for a change toward the more aggressive side of the risk spectrum — from bonds to foreign stocks — did that give you pause?

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Money Roundup: Reasons for Caution, Rules to Invest By, and More

Some of the best investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

And from the blogosphere…

We’d love to hear your thoughts about any of the articles. To weigh in, just meet us in the comments section.

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SMI’s Top 10 Articles of 2019

The end of December is a natural time to reflect on the year. One way we do that here at SMI is to review which of the many articles we wrote were shared the most. (At the beginning and end of each article you will see icons for various social media platforms as well as an envelope icon you can click to share an article via email.) It’s interesting and helpful to see which pieces resonated with you to the point that you were prompted to pass them along to others.

Here, listed in order, are the 10 most-shared articles of 2019.

The Social Security Administration Made a Mistake
Social Security either is or will be an important source of income for many of us. So, when Joseph noticed a mistake on his wife’s earnings record, on which future benefits will be based, and then described how he went about getting it corrected, that got the attention of a lot of our readers. This was, by far, the most shared SMI article of 2019.

Your 10 Most Important Financial Moves for 2020
Recapping all of the articles we wrote over the past year, and framing the recap as a way of planning for the year to come, has become an annual tradition.

Attention Husbands: You Should Know About SMI’s Ministry to Widows
This is one of the lesser-known benefits of an SMI membership. But with so many people spreading the word, hopefully that won’t be the case for long.

Is a College Education Still Worth the Investment?
Reasons to rethink the “college for all” expectation.

A Quick Primer on Capitalism and Socialism (Plus One Lesser-Known Approach)
With the next presidential election coming up in 2020, debates about our country’s economic system have been much in the news. This article, which sought to view various systems through a Christian lens, resonated with many of our readers.

Making Sense of the Annuity Puzzle
Should you buy yourself a pension? It’s not an easy question to answer, so this article was designed to help cut through the complexity.

Making Sense of Your IRA Options
IRAs can be confusing as well.

Yield Curve Inverts – What You Need to Know
With the bull market celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, many investors kept an eye out for signs of a recession, and the yield curve is pretty good at signaling trouble ahead.

Promises Made, Promises Broken: What Went Wrong With the Income Tax
Another macro-economic piece that many of our readers found especially share-worthy.

Building a “Bridge” to Your Social Security Retirement Benefits
This one prompted not just a lot of sharing, but quite a few comments as well.

As we look back on 2019, we are especially thankful for you. We look forward to walking with you throughout the new year as we all seek to glorify God through the wise stewardship of the resources he has generously entrusted to our care.

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“Make No Little Plans”

For many years, Chicago was my home, and even though I don’t live there anymore, I will always love that great city. I love its grit and its beauty, the juxtaposition of historic, detail-rich buildings and sleek new ones, the many ethnic neighborhoods, and the city’s crown jewel — it’s stunning, park-lined lakefront. City planner and architect Daniel Burnham deserves much of the credit for keeping the lakefront open.

Burnham was prolific, designing some of Chicago’s most famous buildings and managing development of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago that drew a record 21 million paid visitors. Fittingly, he was fond of saying, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.” I love that.

As we begin a new year, I wonder what “no little plans” God has for each of us. I wonder if we’ll be attentive enough to discern those plans, and I wonder if we’ll be courageous enough to follow them.

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Unplanned Early Retirement – It’s More Common Than You Might Think

Of all the factors that impact your retirement planning, deciding when to retire is one of the most important. It will affect your income, savings, Social Security benefits, perhaps the quality of your health insurance, and more. Unfortunately, that decision may be less under your control than you might assume.

According to a study by ProPublica and the Urban Institute, “more than half of older U.S. workers are pushed out of longtime jobs before they choose to retire, suffering financial damage that is often irreversible.”

The study covered 2,000 people (51-54 years old) with stable, full-time jobs, tracking them through age 65. At that point, a total of 35% had either retired voluntarily (19%) or were still working without having experienced a job disruption (16%). However, more than half (56%) had experienced at least one employer-driven job loss, such as a layoff. (The remaining 9% left because of personal conditions, such as a health issue or the need to care for a loved one.)

Among the 56% who left their jobs involuntarily, 9 in 10 never found work that paid as much as they used to earn.

“This isn’t how most people think they’re going to finish out their work lives,” said Urban Institute economist Richard Johnson.

This is a seldom-discussed aspect of retirement planning. There’s a far higher percentage of today’s workers who say they intend to work past the typical retirement age of 65 than there are retirees who have actually worked that long. But the ProPublica/Urban Institute study highlights a different, potentially more damaging, risk: You may not be able to work until age 65 or, if you do, you may not finish out your working years earning as much as you assume.

What’s a retirement planner to do?

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Too Much of a Good Thing, and Other Points to Ponder

More time on the clock?

“What if we’re not in the bottom of the 9th but the top of the 5th? What if the past 10 years were unbelievable for U.S. stock market investors but the next 10 years are just as good or better? Would I bet my life on this outcome? Of course not. There are too many differences to count between these two periods and even if there were similarities, no two market cycles are ever exactly the same. But what we can learn from history is that bull markets tend to run for much longer than most investors would ever think is possible.”

– Ben Carlson, writing in his
A Wealth of Common Sense blog on 12/5/19. He cautioned readers against using common sense when trying to understand bull markets. Read more at bit.ly/35vxTzt.

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Money Roundup: Choosing the Right Benchmark, A Radical Gift-Giving Idea, and More

This week's roundup is early becasue we'll have the January issue of the SMI newsletter ready for you this Friday.

And from the blogosphere…

We’d love to hear your responses to any of the above. To weigh in, just meet us in the comments section.

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SMI Members Will Help Plant 35 New Churches in West Africa in 2020!

On #GivingTuesday, December 3rd, we offered a challenge to SMI members in the form of a giving opportunity — to help plant churches in West Africa by supporting the church-planters working with the Jesus Film Project (JFP).

Well, you came through with a wonderful response. According to our friends at the JFP, SMI members collectively gave over $7,700! As in years past, generous SMI members learned of a need and wanted to be part of the solution. 

(FYI, we don't know who gave or how much — that's between you and the Jesus Film Project.)

As promised, those gifts were matched dollar for dollar. That’s enough to help plant 35 new churches in West Africa.

We're also grateful to report that the JFP met its campaign-wide goal of raising $200,000, which was doubled to $400,000 — enough to plant a remarkable 900 churches!

To those of you who gave, thank you for responding in a beautiful and generous way!

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Money Roundup: Analyzing a Remarkable Decade for the Markets, Investing at a Market High, and More

Our latest picks for the best investing and personal finance articles from around the web.

And from the blogosphere…

We’d love to hear your responses to any of the above. To weigh in, just meet us in the comments section.

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