Putting together a financial to-do list for 2022? SMI can help.

A few days ago, I joined host Rob West on Moody Radio's MoneyWise Live to suggest lots of ways to make financial progress in the new year.

To listen, click the play button below. Scroll down for the transcript.

MoneyWise Live airs daily at 4:00 p.m. ET/3:00 CT. 

For more radio appearances by members of the SMI team, visit our Resources page.


Transcript

Rob West:
If you're still working on your financial new year's resolutions for 2022, wouldn't a long list of options be helpful? Hi, I'm Rob West and you've come to the right place to get your list of Top 10 Financial Moves for 2022. This is MoneyWise Live — biblical wisdom for your journey. (theme music ends)

"Your 10 Most Important Financial Moves for 2022" is the title of the cover article in the current issue of Sound Mind Investing. And today, our guest is the author of that article, Joseph Slife — and Joseph, welcome back to the program.

Joseph Slife:
Well, Rob, it has been a while. Merry Christmas to you!

Rob West:
And to you as well. Well, Joseph, this article — which is available at soundmindinvesting.org — offers a list of about 75 possibilities. And I know you urge folks to pick a personal Top 10 for the year ahead. So I'd say you've definitely covered the bases.

Joseph Slife:
<laugh> well, we certainly hope so. What we've done is to survey all of our SMI articles from over the past year and we've categorized them by subject — things that relate to spiritual matters, or getting financially stable, building an investment portfolio, things related to preparing for retirement, and so on. And then in the online version of the article, Rob, we have linked — hyperlinked — to information about each of those things, to an additional article that gives people more details.

Now, obviously, all 75 ideas are not going to apply to each person. It depends on one's season of life and family situation, so on. But our annual top 10 approach is designed to help someone look at all the possibilities that fit who they are and where they are in their finances and say, "You know what? I really need to do that particular thing and that one and that one." And ultimately to pick 10, that can be their action items for 2022, sort of a to-do list — a list of resolutions, as you say — that'll help folks make financial progress in the year ahead.

Rob West:
Well, I love this approach because a lot of folks just need help getting started. You've done that hard work for them and picking their Top 10 will be a great exercise. So let's dive in and get to as many as we can. Joseph, what's first?

Joseph Slife:
Well, we always start our annual list, Rob, with a section titled something like "First Things First," or "What's Most Important." And this is where we recommend the things that are spiritually foundational. You know, at SMI, just like you do at Moneywise, Rob, we look at financial matters from a stewardship perspective. God owns everything. You and I are stewards — managers — of what he entrusts to us.

Rob West:
That's right.

Joseph Slife:
One of our suggestions this year in this area is to "practice living in conscious dependence on God." You know, the Lord is not just out there somewhere and he's not to be acknowledged only on Sunday. So we're urging people to take time each day to recognize their literal dependence on the Lord "for life and, and for breath and for everything" — to quote the apostle Paul from Acts 17. And we think it's a good idea for people to develop a habit, a daily habit, even hourly or more often, a habit of saying short prayers throughout the day to acknowledge their powerlessness and God's power.

And what this does is reinforce the idea, the truth, that God is our source and supply, and we serve him as stewards.

Rob West:
Yes.

Joseph Slife:
Another one in this section is to "build your financial house on the bedrock of biblical principles." You know, Rob, we can never tell ahead of time what financial storms may come our way — or when they'll come. No one could have predicted the things that have happened over the past year-and-a-half or so. And we couldn't have more storms in 2022. We're not predicting that, but it could happen. And we believe that people will base their financial decisions and their actions on the protective principles, the stewardship principles, that are taught in Scripture, they'll be able to weather those storms.

Rob West:
Yes.

Joseph Slife:
Another one in this sort of spiritual section, Rob, is that "if you have the spiritual gift of giving, then cultivate it." Every follower of Jesus is called to be generous. We all know that. But from the New Testament, we also know that God has given some people this special gift of giving — just as he's given some people gifts of administration or teaching or whatever. So if you have that gift of giving, or think you might, study what the scriptures say about it, and please make the most of that gift.

Rob West:
Now, we move on to "Strengthening Your Financial Foundation." So tell us what you suggest there.

Joseph Slife:
Yeah, Rob, one of the best things that anybody can do in this area of strengthening a financial foundation is to "cultivate good habits." We all know how easy it is to pick up bad habits, but good habits have to be cultivated. They have to be worked on. And that means taking specific actions that reinforce good habits. For example, making a spending plan that puts you in a position to pay down your debt steadily, so you're making paying off your credit cards and car loans and those sorts of things a priority.

And here's one in this category that I know you'll like, Rob, we encourage people to start using a money management app to track their finances. And there's one I happen to know of. It's the MoneyWise App — perhaps you've heard of it. We think that's a great tool for making financial progress. And it'd be a great thing for somebody to start with in 2022. 

And here's an idea on the spending side of things that can really help. And it's one that many people never think of. And it's simply this: "Speak up to save money." We have a guy in our office — Matt Bell, he's been on your program before — and Matt does this frequently. He just asks, very politely, "Is there any better deal you can offer me?" And he's found that when he asks, just forthrightly and politely, he's been able to get fees waived, he's been able to get subscription prices lowered — just by making a polite request to somebody and smiling and being firm. And I actually tried this at Matt's suggestion one year with my internet company. I called and they lowered my bill by $20 a month. So you just never know unless you ask.

Rob West:
All right, Joseph, these are really helpful. Let's move into another category in this is "Developing Your Investing Plan." What do you have for us?

Joseph Slife:
You know, Rob, in this area, it's kind of a balancing act. Scripture encourages us, on the one hand, to prepare for the needs of tomorrow. That's very important. But it also warns us very forthrightly about becoming hoarders. That's something we are definitely not to do — you know, people who just amass stuff to be amassing it for ourselves and building bigger and better barns. So as you invest, it's always good to keep in mind that this isn't just about building as big a nest egg as you can. It's about saving wisely and proportionately for future needs, without being too self-focused and building too much stuff.

And saving for the future like this — investing — really starts with looking realistically at where you are and then developing a prudent plan that moves you toward your long-term goals.

Rob West:
Yes.

Joseph Slife:
And we, of course, urge people to make this a spiritual matter, not just a financial one. We think people are well-served to pray over these sorts of things and to seek out wise and godly counsel.

That said, we also want people to recognize that wise investing choices often reflect common sense. You know, sometimes people have this idea that you've gotta be a Wall Street wizard to be an investor and that is simply not so. In fact, many basic investing lessons are closely connected with what people already know and do.

For example, a few weeks ago, my wife and I took a trip to see some relatives for Thanksgiving. We went down to Florida, we mapped out a travel plan and we stuck to our plan. We knew where we were going to be and when we were going to be there, traffic permitting. And the same holds true for investing: plan your way. Don't just head off in any direction. You have a destination that you're going to.

Rob West:
Yes.

Joseph Slife:
Now, Rob, here's a suggestion in this area of investing that won't apply to everyone, but it does apply to many people and it's this: "Don't be overly rigid in your investment plan."

Rob West:
Okay.

Joseph Slife:
Now that may sound like I'm contradicting what I just said a moment ago about planning your way. But the idea here is that, you know, life happens. You have to have some flexibility. And if your plan is too strict, you can miss out on some very important things in life. For example, you might be thinking, "Oh wow, taking a family vacation costs too much. That's going to mess up my investing plan." And I can almost guarantee you, Rob, that on your deathbed you'll regret that decision of giving up the family vacation, because that's where you build bonds of relationship and memories with your family.

Rob West:
Absolutely.

Joseph Slife:
You know, being too strict also, in some cases, could cause you to turn a deaf ear to God. You might be thinking, "Well, maybe I should give generously to this thing or that thing, but that's going to interfere with my investing plan." And so you don't do it. So we want people to plan, but not allow their plans to become like a financial straight-jacket that keeps them from doing really important things.

Rob West:
Great advice. All right. Joseph time for just one more category, let's finish with some ideas related to college in particular.

Joseph Slife:
Yeah, Rob, that's very important for parents who have children of a certain age. You really need to learn how to navigate the college admissions process. There are ways to make that system work to your advantage if you and your child have selective colleges in mind, such as having your child take Advanced Placement classes in high school and get involved in extracurricular activities, especially in leadership roles. But there are also some things you can do if you have less selective colleges in mind, and we talk about that in our article.

Also, one of our Top 10 options in the area of college to study very carefully the various kinds of student loans and what they entail regarding interest and payment options. Unfortunately, many people take out college loans without really understanding what they're getting into and they regret it later. And that includes parents, Rob, who borrow to put their kids through school. It's a shocking fact that people older than age 60 make up the fastest-growing segment of college student-loan debtors.

Rob West:
Mm. That really is staggering and something we need to heed a warning related to, so we don't inadvertently allow our kids to graduate with a lot of debt.

Well, Joseph, we're just about out of time today. Any last words of advice for our listeners?

Joseph Slife:
Yeah. Rob, I'll end the way I ended the article in the SMI newsletter for this month. And that is, as we start a new year, we all have this tendency to think, "Oh, if only I knew what lies ahead." And of course, we can never know that. And <laugh> probably if we did know it, it would be rather disconcerting. But there is something we can know, and it is something of immeasurable value.

The Apostle Paul talks about this in Philippians chapter 3, he says he wants to "know Him" — that is Jesus Christ. Paul says that "everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." And, you know, Rob, that really should be our true number one goal for 2022 — and for all the years to come.

Rob West:
That's great advice and a great place to finish. Joseph, thank you for joining us today.

Joseph Slife:
Well, thank you, Rob. And, again, from all of us at SMI, Happy Advent to you and Merry Christmas!

Rob West:
Thank you, sir. And you as well. Joseph Slife has been our guest today. You can get the entire list of 75 important financial moves for 2022 on their website at soundmindinvesting.org. We'll be right back.