How do you make money decisions?
Do you flip a coin? Go with your gut? Follow the “baby-steps”?
We use levels to make sure things are straight, measuring cups to ensure the right mix of ingredients and to-do lists to keep our days on task. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a way to measure whether your money decisions were on mission or missing the mark?
What’s a Money Mission Statement?
A Money Mission statement, sometimes called a Statement of Financial Purpose is simply one or two sentences describing what matters to you about money. Instead of evaluating the merits of each purchase, or trying to fit EVERYTHING into your budget, the money mission statement acts as a guide helping you to point your money towards what really matters to you.
Having a money mission makes it easy to answer questions like:
“Where should I invest?”
“How much money should I keep in an emergency fund?”
“Should I renovate my house or buy a new one?”
Answering these questions is impossible if you don’t know your money’s purpose. Developing a money mission statement is work, which is why many people simply search out stock advice and rules of thumb for each decision without considering if it helps accomplish the good works God prepared in advance for them to do.
How to Build a Money Mission Statement?
Crafting a Money Mission Statement is not the hard part. Answering the questions that form the statement is. Remember that that the Money Mission statement is more like a compass than a GPS, it’s better written in pencil than chiseled in stone. Life is a formational experience that shapes your call, not a linear path to a final destination. The Money Mission Statement captures what you know of your mission so far but allows for changes.
Follow along and by the end of this article you’ll have a succinct mission statement for your money.
Want your kids to learn how to have their money on a mission? Download your FREE copy of the Mission Minded Money for Kids curriculum
Questions to Answer
On a blank sheet of paper brain storm answers to the following questions. Don’t over think it. Write two or three sentences to answer each question.
What Matters Most About Money?
What do you want money to do for you? “More” is not a goal. We can’t measure mission in dollar amounts or timelines. A number in a bank account is useless until it does something for you.
You might find that what you want money to do for you is something God is supposed to give you, such as; security, sense of well-being or joy. This is a red flag signaling perhaps money has replaced God in your heart and affections. Pray about if that’s true and ask God to show you what he desires for you to do with your money.
You might answer things such as: flexibility, freedom to volunteer, opportunity for a spouse to stay home with kids etc.
This is hard for some people to understand, but I love work more than play. I love to create, to build and to mark my progress. What I’ve found is there are two kinds of work. There is working a job for income, and there is working as an outflow of my creative energy. What matters most to me about money is that the work I do is the kind of work that captures my imagination, not the kind that simply “pays the bills”. I don’t want to do work I want to do even if it’s not the work that pays the most money.
What am I willing to go “All-in” on?
What’s the non-negotiable? If you could only spend your money on one thing, besides necessities for survival, what would it be?
This could be telling. If you answered golf clubs or lattes, you might want to double check your priorities. What is God drawing your heart towards? Often, I find that people know the answer, yet they spend no money towards it! They are too busy taking “baby-steps” or spending money impulsively. The ONE THING that matters is getting no attention!
You might answer things like: raising godly kids, a specific cause, helping my neighbors or co-workers know Jesus or living a specific life style.
For me, I’ve spent enough of my life analyzing God’s call to the point of paralysis. I don’t want to miss it again. I want to go all-in each time I think I hear God’s call. I want to try it, even if I fail. I don’t want the cost or the seeming impossibility to keep me from saying “yes”. I want to bet the farm on the invitations of Jesus every time.
Where’s the Line?
What won’t you do? What is never worth it? What are the things you aren’t willing to do with money?
It might help to think of some of your earliest money memories. What were the things you saw your parents do that seemed not to work? What mistakes did you make early in your adult life that you don’t want to repeat?
You might answer things like: I won’t stop giving some amount of money away, or I won’t let a job determine my family’s location or I won’t over-accumulate or take unnecessary risks for high returns.
For me, I refuse to let my fixed lifestyle expenses bind me to a certain income level. Although nice things are a blessing, I don’t want to be a slave to my monthly need for cash.
Craft your Mission Statement
So far, you might have seven or eight sentences answering these three questions. A Money Mission Statement should be just a sentence or two so that it’s easily rememberable and succinct enough to be specific.
Carl Richards, who’s work I admire, has a statement of financial purchase that sounds something like this: “Time with my family, mostly outside. Serving my community and my church.”
It’s specific enough to help him evaluate decisions but vague enough to apply to any situation.
What are some of the themes you see in my answers to these three questions?
You might notice themes like “flexibility, freedom and passion.” After rolling around a few sentences I’ve developed this money mission statement:
“Responding to the invitations of Jesus. Making money from things that are fun.”
Some things are opportunities, but they aren’t an invitation from Jesus. Some things could make money but they aren’t fun. Neither of these get my money.
But when something feels like an invitation, or I can feel the passion towards an opportunity, I find a way to make it work.
Try to find the themes in the couple of questions that you answered and summarize them in two sentences.
Evaluating Money Decisions
Maybe you’re like me and have crafted a family mission statement, got it engraved on a beautiful plaque and hanging it on the wall was the last time you did anything with it. This isn’t helpful. You must actually use a mission statement for it to have any value.
Once you have your Money Mission Statement crafted, look at your recurring expenses line item by line item and ask yourself: does this advance my money mission or detract from it? Whatever advances it is an automatic yes. If money is an issue, then something not contributing to the mission has to go!
If Carl goes to the ski slopes with his family, his lift tickets are “mission money”. He’s spending time with his family outside, that’s part of his mission! It’s not for me to say whether or not that SHOULD be his mission. For me, lift tickets would be an extraneous expense. Not mission detracting, but not mission supporting. It’s the overflow money out of the abundance of God. While Carl categorizes lift tickets as Mission Money I would categorize it as Overflow Money on the Mission Minded Money Worksheet.
Crafting a money mission statement is hard work, but once you do you have a tool to evaluate all your money decisions. If we approach our money as a tool to accomplish the mission God has for our lives, our spending focuses. When we focus our spending, we spend money on the things that bring us life and life abundantly, and refuse to spend money on things that ultimately suck us into a consumer culture blinding us from our true identity.
Take the time to craft a personal money mission statement or even one for your family (they don’t have to be the same). I’d love to hear what you came up with. Send me your Money Mission Statement or contact me if you feel stuck.