Bible Money Matters: An Interview with Peter Anderson
Bible Money Matters is one of the top financial blogs on the web, and we were fortunate enough to land an interview with its author Peter Anderson.
Peter offers a unique bible-focused perspective on household financial matters, providing readers not only with good financial principles, but also the reasons why such principles should be followed. Over the centuries, the bible has proved its wisdom as a source of great advice for daily living, and since money matters are such a significant part of daily life, what better way to get your financial house in order than to consult the bible for financial wisdom?
So pull up a chair and join me in welcoming Peter "Pete" Anderson to Your Roth IRA...
1) Hi Pete, thank you for sharing your valuable time with us.
You have an excellent blog that combines two of my favorite subjects ? the bible and personal finance. As you state on your blog, "Many people believe that faith and finances should be wholly separate, but I believe they are inextricably bound. The bible has over 2,300 verses on money, and it is clear to me that our money needs to be informed by our faith."
The theme of your site seems to be sound financial guidance rooted in God's Word.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and Bible Money Matters.
I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and have lived in the area my entire life. I attended the University of Minnesota and graduated with my B.A. in Advertising and Communications in 1998. Shortly after graduating I started working at a Minneapolis advertising agency, where I've been working full time ever since. My day job is in advertising, but my passion is blogging. It's my full time night job I guess you could say.
I started blogging in January of 2008 after being inspired by a host of other personal finance blogs, but especially some of the bigger PF blogs like Christianpf.com, getrichslowly.org and thesimpledollar.com. I launched my blog, and I know that I wanted to put my own spin on things, focusing on things that are important to me, including my Christian faith. By the same token I wanted my blog to give great actionable advice that was applicable to everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike.
I've been married to my beautiful wife Maria for almost 8 years now, and she's currently pregnant with our first child. It's an exciting time, but also a time where our financial focus is truly paying dividends.
2) On your blog, you write, "Hopefully this blog can play a small part in helping you to start your financial blueprint so that down the road you can save, invest, and give more to others!"
Some Christians might view a blog which promotes personal financial growth as something in direct opposition to God's purpose for our lives. After all, in Matthew 19:23-24, Jesus states, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
As a Christian, how do you balance your saving, investing, and giving so that you don't become a lover of money? What would you say to another Christian who believes it's "wrong" to be "rich"?
It is so easy to get caught up in the things of the world, and to start believing that we can create our own destiny, and that we don't need God to be successful. When we do that, I think we become over-confident in our own prowess, and we don't realize just how fragile our lives, and our wealth really is. It can all be gone in a flash. Look at the current predicament our country finds itself. People are losing their entire nest eggs because of the market collapse, and people are realizing just how loose the foundation of our wealth really is. To me it is a matter of focus, where does our focus lie - is it constantly on growing our wealth, or is it on our Lord and savior? I think as long as we keep our focus where it needs to be, on Jesus, even a rich man can enter the kingdom of God. (notice the verse doesn't say it is "impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.")
One of the things I'm constantly writing about on the site is the importance of giving our wealth, through our tithes, through extra giving, and through just giving when the spirit leads us. I think that while it's important to plan for our futures, it is also important to always be aware of the needs of others around us, and to be helping when we can. After all, everything we have we are just managers of, and why not give it away - it's not ours anyway!
3) You're a big fan of Dave Ramsey, promoting his 7 Baby Steps on your site. Which step do you think is most important, and what step do you find yourself on right now?
Personally, I think one of the more important of Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps is baby step 2, to pay off all your debts. It seems like a basic step, but it's one that so few people actually follow. So many people just stay in a revolving door of debt, always paying minimums, and continually creating new debt. It was amazing to me how much money we had left over every month when we no longer had student loans, credit cards and car payments. It allowed us to have that much more money to give to our church, save for an emergency fund, and invest for our future. Currently, we're just moving on from baby step 3 (save 3-6 months of expenses) to baby step 4 - which is to invest 15% of household income. We also hope to start saving for our first child's college education and start paying off our home early.
4) What do think is most important... Becoming debt free as soon as possible or investing as much as possible as early as possible for your retirement years? Does the bible offer any guidance?
Personally, I think paying off your debts as soon as possible is key. It's not only a financial question, but one of lifting a burden from your shoulders, and giving you motivation to know you don't have that debt hanging over your head. One of my favorite verses in regards to debt is Romans 13:8:
"Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law."
We've paid off everything except for our house at this point. Once you get that debt paid off, then you can be free to invest as much as possible for retirement years. And of course, the earlier you can get started on that, the better.
5) You wrote a two part series on The Bible and Tithing. Do you personally believe God still requires the Old Testament tithing laws, and if so, should the 10% go to your local place of worship or can it go for any Godly purpose?
I believe that we are under a new covenant through the New Testament, and that there is no set percentage of what we should be giving, however, I also believe that we ARE called to give. Why does God want us to give? It is an act of worship, it makes us more unselfish people, and it helps to release some of the hold that money can get on our lives. A verse I like on the topic of giving:
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
I believe we need to give what we are called to give, and in many cases that is going to be much more than 10%! I believe we need to be giving money to our local churches, and our family gives 10% to our church as a starting point. We also give to some other charities as well, but only ones that we know fall in line with our beliefs and values.
6) One bible verse you often quote on Bible Money Matters is "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7). This seems to indicate that even in a free society such as ours, you can't truly be free if you carry the burden of debt. What else does the bible say in regard to debt? Are there any particular verses which guide you in your own financial journey?
Having debt inherently means that you are in a power relationship with whoever you owe the money to. Whether it is a bank, a family member or someone else - when you are in debt to them you aren't truly in a free relationship, and you can't live financially free. Are there some situations where it might be more acceptable to be in debt than others? Sure. But debt is still debt. I'd prefer to save up and pay cash for the things I buy, or do without. Some verses I like about debt:
"The wicked borrow and do not repay,but the righteous give generously." Psalm 37:21
"For the Lord your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you." Deuteronomy 15:6
7) If an individual wants to use a Roth IRA to invest in the stock market, do you recommend purchasing mutual funds, index funds, individual stocks, or some combination thereof?
I'll be the first to admit that I'm still learning a lot of things when it comes to retirement accounts. I don't have all the answers - but what we've decided to do for our family when we start our Roth IRA this year is to invest in some low cost index funds in different sectors - stocks, international stocks, bonds. It suits our investing style, which is a bit hands off. It also means that since it mirrors the entire market, we'll be diversified to a point as well. Remember, never invest in something you don't understand - so do your research before you start investing.
8) You've described Bible Money Matters as "a Christian personal finance blog that helps regular people dump the chains of debt and live a financially free life." With more than two years and over 1,000 posts under your belt, I'm sure your blog has had a significant impact on a number of lives. Have you ever been contacted by any Bible Money Matters success stories? Has the blog lived up to your expectations in terms of personal and spiritual fulfillment?
When I started the blog 2 years ago I never thought it would grow to the point that it has. I've had almost 1 million visitors come to the site in that time, and a lot of them have reached out by email, and via the comments section to let me know that the site has helped them. I love getting that feedback because it really does validate all the things that I've been trying to do with the site, and it shows me how God can use the things we do for His glory. So yes, the site has been both personally fulfilling, and spiritually fulfilling. I hope one day to be doing it full-time!
9) On Your Roth IRA, we encourage people to use the Internet as an avenue for turning a personal passion into an extra income stream. Given your own experience with Bible Money Matters, would you recommend the Internet as a viable option for generating extra income?
If you had asked me that question even a couple of years ago I would have thought that it was delusional to think you could make much money doing anything on the Internet in your spare time. Now, however, I am a huge proponent of doing the things you love and turning them into an extra income source on the side. Anything you can do to create new income streams for your family is key! I've now been able to replace my wife's income through the income generated by my blog - which is huge now that we're expecting our first child. I believe in using a blog to create a new income stream so much that I'm currently writing a series called "How to make money with a blog" where I'm walking new bloggers through the process of starting their own blog, and monetizing it. So yes - find something you're passionate about, and turn it into income on the side. If it does well enough you might even be able to do it full time!
Many thanks to Pete for his generosity in offering us his time. Hopefully, you gained some valuable insight from his personal experience and expertise as well as the wisdom of the bible. And don't forget to check out his Bible Money Matters blog. Thanks, Pete!
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