Chase Freedom

Book Review–Your Money Map

A few months ago, I visited a Christian bookstore and I decided to check out the personal finance section. Some of the books appeared to be from health and wealth guys who encourage you to “sow some seed” to benefit their ministries. I’m not into that by any stretch. I then happened upon a book titled Your Money Map: A Proven 7-Step Guide to True Financial Freedom. The author of the book was Howard Dayton, and it was published in 2006. Moody Publishers published this book, and it’s pretty far removed from the health and wealth scene. I then decided to pick up the book to see if it was the same as Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, which has seven baby steps. It did not.

Rather than just giving seven “baby steps” that are singular in purpose and that readers must follow in order religiously, this book shows more of a lifetime journey that a person might take. Both Ramsey and Dayton argue that financial freedom is a process that could take quite a bit of time.

Your Money Map Is Christian In Outlook

Your Money Map is distinctively Christian in its outlook. Therefore, those who have a more secular viewpoint might have more interest in other personal finance books. This book follows a couple that Dayton counseled regarding personal finance and the advice that he gave them through each step of the way.

The book starts out by arguing that all wealth comes as a stewardship from God. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that we are effective stewards with the money that God entrusts with. Dayton argues that one of the first steps that anyone should take when getting their personal finances in order is to begin charitable giving toward religious purposes. This is one of the areas that nonreligious people might disagree with Dayton, but starting to give is part of Destination 1 on the money map that’s included in the chapters of the book, as well as the schematic money map at the very end of the book.

Step 1

Other goals involved in reaching Destination 1 include the obligatory budget and $1,000 emergency fund. These two steps seem to be pretty standard among the community of personal finance gurus. Both are pretty good ideas. Budgeting ensures that you can avoid spending more than you bring in. If you spend more than your income each month, you’ll wind up with a negative net worth if you’re not already there.

If you spend less on a monthly basis, you’ll build up a solid net worth over time. It’s pretty simple, actually. Also, stashing $1,000 allows you to pay for any unexpected expenses that might come up–like the busted radiator I had to replace a couple of months ago. Definitely not cool, but necessary. Learning to handle money God’s way is a little outside the realm of personal finance gurus who are not religious in nature.

Your Money Map

Steps 2 and 3 on the money map are where Dayton is a bit different than some of the other personal finance books and websites that I’ve read. Most of these other books emphasize paying off debt at the expense of savings. Your Money Map argues that people should build up a larger emergency fund (for one, and then three, months of expenses) while simultaneously paying down credit card debt and all other consumer debts. This blended approach is refreshing to me, because cash flow is important. Having more money available at any given time can help people avoid building up additional debt should an unexpected job loss or other catastrophe occur.

Earning money in pajamas can help you achieve financial freedom.

A possible destination after reaching Step 7on Your Money Map.

Step 4 relates to saving up funds for major outlays like a home or retirement (childrens’ education is optional here). Dayton recommends saving up a substantial down payment for a home so that a downturn in the local housing market does not get a buyer upside-down on his or her mortgage. This is generally sound advice (although I didn’t follow it personally because renting in the markets I’ve lived in has been more expensive than buying–I took advantage of loans with low down payment requirements).

Getting Closer To Financial Independence

Steps 5 and 6 deal with actually buying the house, paying it off early, and investing additional money outside of retirement accounts, working toward the multiple goals at the same time. Step 7 is financial freedom. The goal of financial freedom is retiring and actually having something to leave as a legacy, be it through an inheritance to your children or some nice gifts to organizations that you feel strongly about. Retirement also means that you have more time to give to endeavors that you feel really, really passionately about.

The story of Matt Mitchell, the car salesman that Dayton counsels, appears throughout the book. Dayton himself has basically donated his time as a personal finance coach for decades, so he discusses how he walked his pupil through the steps toward financial freedom. I liked how this book showed that you can focus upon more than one thing at a time because compounding is an important and powerful aspect of investing. This is actually not as common in personal finance advice as you might think. Those who start with just saving a few bucks regularly early in life will actually be better off than those who save up more of their income later in life.

Some Jobs Aren’t Worth It

I also liked the argument for having a single earner for many couples. After paying for child care and additional clothing, food, and transportation expenses, Dayton shows how one working wife earned an effective wage of $0.64 per hour on $18,000 of gross earnings over the course of a year. Many people don’t look at it this way, but it’s the rationale we used when my wife decided to stay at home with the kids. Low real earnings like this are also all too common. Overall, Your Money Map did a good job of showing how disciplined people can achieve financial independence over time.  If you’d like to check out this book and read it for yourself, I’d encourage you to scroll up and click the link near the top of the page

Disclaimer: If you decide to sign up for various programs or buy products from my referral links, I may receive compensation. You can get the same great benefits from just going to the websites themselves, but I definitely appreciate your support. It’s one of the ways I’m able to earn money in pajamas while helping others do the same. 

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Earn Money from Home to Pay off Debt

Debt is a serious problem in the United States. The national debt is now around $20 trillion (that is 20 and 12 zeroes behind it). College students can borrow up to six figures to earn a degree. This is a very big deal for new college students, because they graduate with a ton of debt that hampers their ability to get ahead in life. Earning some extra money in spare time can help toward paying off debts and help debtors start to get ahead in their finances.

Debt Can Cause Stress
Debt can cause stress!

Debt That’s Not Bad

Some debt can be necessary or even advisable. Few people will be able to buy a house with cash, for example. Additionally, a home mortgage makes quite a bit of sense in many parts of the country because the monthly expense incurred in buying a decent starter home can cost much less than the monthly rent payment. Buyers can recoup much of the money pay into a mortgage, but they only enrich others by renting. Borrowing a little bit to get a degree in engineering or nursing might make sense because of the increased income possibilities that will be available after earning the degree.

Bad Debt

There is debt that is pretty useless, however. Buying a Starbucks coffee on credit is not the best financial move by any stretch of the imagination. Rather than paying $5, the cost might wind up being double when the interest involved in paying off the card is added in. A $10 cup of coffee would have to be very, very good to justify the expense.

In thinking of biblical finances, the Scriptures talk about debt and the crippling effect that it his on the lives of those who owe. Proverbs 22:7 (ESV) notes:

7 The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

While many people think that people are poor because of some fault of their own, this is not necessarily the case. However, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who is poor that has power over any government nationwide. Poor people don’t tend to run major companies. This is not saying anything against the poor, it is just saying that they have less control over their lives.

Debt Literally Led To Slavery

In the day that the author wrote the proverb, the borrower could very well wind up a slave of the lender. Selling oneself into slavery to pay off a debt was fairly common in the ancient world. Debtor’s prisons were even common (for the poor) in early American history. Those who owed money traditionally had several negative consequences that could come about. Today, there is the possibility of negative aspects of  bankruptcy, and filing for bankruptcy hurts the ability to get certain jobs and definitely hampers the ability to get credit in the future.

For these reasons, you should keep debt to a minimum.  Teens as young as 13 can take some of the tips offered on this site to start making some additional money to get a good start, and adults can start making a few bucks a day to help with monthly finances. Both those who want to pay off debt and those who want to stay out of debt can benefit by trying to earn money in pajamas from home in their spare time.

Image Credit: all-free-download.com

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Why Try to Make Money in Pajamas?

Most people want to make more money because they want to sock it away or consume it on trivialities that matter little in the long run. Food, clothing, shelter, and transportation are necessities in life, but much of the rest that we buy is superfluous to life. I would say that a computer is a near necessity because it is a great tool for making money. There are two important reasons why people should want to make money according to the Good Book. One of the two is frequently ignored in American society today.

If a Man Won’t Work, He Shouldn’t Eat

Growing up, I frequently heard Bible reading from 2 Thessalonians 3. This passage basically says that if a man won’t work, he should not eat. I see this verse spouted off on message boards and certain televisions stations to bash the poor and those on welfare. This verse is not meant to bash the poor. It is meant to bash the lazy. The two are not necessarily the same thing. Some people are poor because they are lazy. Others are simply poor because they don’t make enough in their work. These people should not be condemned by society, as they often are.

#1 Work to Provide for Yourself/Your Family

The same writer, Paul, wrote this passage in his earlier letter to the same people (I Thessalonians 4):

9Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (ESV)

The first purpose of working hard and making money through a job or online endeavors is to provide. This wins respect and tends to keep those who work from being dependent. The Apostle did not stop at working just to get rich yourself. Jesus said a few things about those who trust in their wealth, and none of these sayings were positive.

#2 Work to Provide for the Needs of Others

Those who work are not just to work for their own benefit. Most people like to stop with the passages mentioned above. However, Paul, who wrote the two letters mentioned specifically above also wrote a letter to his converts in Ephesus. In this passage (Ephesians 4:28), he notes:

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (ESV)

From this passage, it is evident that those who are able to be successful should use some of their wealth for the benefit of others. There is no qualifier on who should get help, other than those who are in need. While this concept goes against much of what people think it means to be an American, it nonetheless needs to be pointed out.