Published on 1/10/23
How am I currently investing?
Great question! Please forgive the proceeding nuanced and overly thought-out answer.
In short, I am putting more effort into my business and using what I divested from the market to either grow my business or improve my home.
In the long, after divesting from the market I had to do some deep thinking on time management and financial pursuits. The time value of money is something I did not think a lot about in my younger days, but now it is a crucial concept in how I live my life.
Like the vast majority of people, I had the financial goals of retiring early, living comfortably, and providing a good college education to my kids. Since my drastic change in thinking, which I am sure my readers are aware of by now, these financial pursuits have changed. I no longer ‘save’ for retirement, but I do prepare for disaster. I no longer wish to live a comfortable life, because I know that easy does not mean Good (Though it can at times). And college is increasingly the last place I want my kids to go, plus the writing is on the wall that a college education is only really worth the price for very specific majors.
This change in my thinking of financial goals has helped my time management. I no longer waste time researching my stocks and investments in hopes of a secure financial future, but instead, I spend time improving my current revenue-generating streams. This of course takes more labor, but it has also produced more fruit in the here and now, which can be used later if needed. This is essentially what I mean when I say I stopped saving for retirement and started preparing for the possibility of being incapable of work. I no longer plan for an easy future but prepare for one that may be difficult. I do this by optimizing my current revenue streams and developing relationships and friendships that are meaningful and beneficial to not only my financial well-being but my spiritual well-being too.
I have talked about it before, but I do hope that one day my ambitious goal of creating a Christian Catastrophe Sharing community will be realized. Much like Health share ministries, we want to develop a community of givers who support one another when catastrophe strikes. This concept would replace fire insurance, life insurance, and accident insurance much in the same way that health share ministries replace health insurance. I am already practicing this in a small way by developing a local community of friends and family who share the love of Christ and are willing to help one another out if the chance arises.
Living comfortably is something I am no longer concerned with. When people try to keep up with the jones’ or constantly pursue the easy life things naturally become perverted and spiritual ills follow. My mindset has gone from working to obtain the easy to working to produce and provide for as long as God will let me. This change in mindset has helped me to improve relationships and be more present, and it has produced more financial fruit in the process. What keeps coming to mind is Luke 19:26 where our Lord says “‘I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away…”
My wife and I have decided that if we can, and we agree with the major choice, we will help our kids pay for college, but it is not something we are committed to doing. Nor is it something we necessarily want to do. Not having things handed to us is what builds spiritual strength and when things are handed to us, we oftentimes begin to atrophy spiritually. This idea of not saving for my kid’s college has allowed my family to be more action-oriented in the present and create things, like business, that can be more fruitful for the future.
In summary, I am no longer concerned with saving for the future in the traditional sense. I of course will save some money, invest in my home and business, and will be disciplined in my spending, but my primary concern is no longer with the worldly future but rather with the eternal future. This change of course in where my concern is placed has been liberating.
Now, perhaps when I am at some ripe old age and unable to work, I will be destitute because my community building failed, my business failed, inflation ate my cash savings, and my kids want nothing to do with me because I didn’t help them pay for a college degree and couldn’t afford them an extravagant wedding. If this is my future, then I hope my future self will take solace in the fact that he tried to do the right thing and follow our Lord’s will, and I hope that he has hope in the Kingdom of Heaven.
How should we invest…
- Raise a Christian Family
- Build Christian Community
- Start Christian Business
- Property (In a non-slumlord-type of way)
- Crypto and Gold if you think it should replace modern-day currency and are willing to labor to promote it.
What C3 is currently trying to do.
- Write a book on the Christian case against the Stock Market.
- Start a community of Christian Entrepreneurs who are looking to truly labor alongside one another to help Christian businesses thrive.
- Start a Christian Catastrophe Sharing Ministry.
If you are willing to help in any of the endeavors, then please reach out. We need all the help we can get and then some!
I think I’m on a journey with the morality of standard investment practices similar to yourself. I haven’t reached the same conclusions as you in some areas, but I am becoming far more interested in alternatives to standard stock market investing.
But this brings up some other questions I have, which I haven’t seen well addressed. Most people hold their investments in retirement accounts, and many aren’t over 59.5 years old. How should one divest from investments made in retirement accounts?
I guess the first thing that could be addressed is does one need to actually remove the money from the retirement account (IRA, 401k, 403b, etc.) or just divest from stocks, mutual funds, etc. Most retirement accounts have the option to hold cash. Additionally many employers offer a match when contributing. Couldn’t one contribute to retirement accounts, leave all their money in cash and still get the company match without there being any moral concerns? Is receiving a company match reaping where you haven’t sown? When you break it down the match is an incentive for putting money into retirement plans, not a reward for work, since they will not typically offer you any alternative if you don’t invest in the retirement plan.
There is also the concern of the time value of money. While a company match provides a very good initial return (maybe 50-100%), the characteristics of retirement accounts might require the money to be left there earning nothing for decades if holding cash. If we have an idea for a more productive use for the money today maybe we should forego the match, if we don’t have any ideas maybe we should take the match?
My next concern is what to do if you think the money should be removed from retirement accounts. If someone has large amounts in retirement accounts there are significant tax implications to taking it all out at once (maybe 50-70% depending on state of residence). Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, sure, but what if Caesar gives you available strategies for avoiding that big of a penalty.
I’m thinking specifically of a Roth conversion ladder. With this strategy you could make the money in retirement accounts available to you significantly sooner (as soon as 5 years), while giving much less to federal and state agencies that tend to use the money immorally.
I’ve been instituting this strategy for a few years now, because I hate the idea of my money being locked behind a large tax penalty. I have listened to and read your content, New Polity, Thomas Dubay, and some others. There seems to be an idea that one should pull their money out of the market, and be willing to take the tax hit in order to live a moral life. I’m fully in support of living a moral life and making sacrifices to do it, I just can’t get my mind past the fact that you are giving your money to an immoral agent by choosing to pay those taxes. I haven’t seen this fact addressed yet. Can you help? Do you know any resources that do address this?
I appreciate your comment a lot and think a lot of folks could benefit from a good discussion around the topic.
Hello Avmartin, these are great questions and points to think about. The short answer is that everything is situational to a degree.
Someone may want to take the hit and pay the penalty to divest early from a retirement account if the conviction is strong enough or if some other opportunity is more appealing. Something that may be hard to accept is that if you divest and lose some of that money, that would be okay because it was ill-gotten via the stock market.
I personally divested before my 29th birthday and the overall 30% hit I took by doing that essentially erased my market gains but left my actual contributions intact. This math of course will be different for everyone depending on age, time invested, and actual assets. I was comfortable taking out the money early because of my own ambition and personal conviction, but I am not saying that is the right thing to do for everyone.
I am not aware of any employers letting you just hold everything in cash and still giving a match. If an employer were to do this it would be more akin to an old-school pension plan than a savings account. As you could imagine, I am much more a fan of pension plans where the employers take care of their employees than I am of 401(k)s and IRAs.
The time value of money concern seems to make this employer match question moot though. It would be better to have $1,000 now rather than $2,500 in ten years because you have no idea where inflation would be, and you could use the $1,000 for some morally responsible investment like improving your home or starting a small business.
Is it worth it if Ceasar allows you to keep your money at the cost of funding nefarious things? please trust me when I say, I understand the radical nature of what I am proposing. But being tricked into doing something morally wrong, finding out it is morally wrong, and then continuing to do it because the cost is too high, seems like a bad spiritual practice.
The situation is not ideal. Taking your money out of something evil only to have a huge chunk of your money go to something equally immoral is choosing between a wolf and another wolf. Now arguments could be made that Uncle Sam is not entirely bad and the stock market is inherently wrong given its nature and purpose so taking money out of the market and the Gov. taking a cut would be the lesser of two evils. Another argument could be made that even if both the market and the gov. are equally bad, it would be better to stop the continuous bleeding of investing in the market, and just give the gov a one-and-done payment. Not an emotionally satisfying answer, I know, but one that does make sense from a perspective of logic and morals.
Every situation is unique, and every individual has their own responsibilities. I am not sure what would be the right thing to do in every situation, but I do know that the market is immoral and has been a great ill on society. If people are able to combat it, they probably should.
Remember to always be in prayer with Our Lord before making any major financial decisions. I, New Polity, and Mr. Dubay may steer you wrong, but Our Lord never will.