[This is an awesome look into the financial life of a pastor friend of mine, Jon, who also blogs over at 2-Copper-Coins.com with his wife, Krista. I think you'll enjoy this whether you're Christian or not :)]
We are super pumped to be writing here at Budgets are Sexy. We recently joined J Money’s “millionaire club” and are big fans of everything you will find on this site. Before we tell you why we think you can be rich and generous on almost any salary (the topic of this post) we want to tell you a little bit about ourselves. This is us:
My wife Krista and I met six years ago at George Fox University in Newberg OR while serving as student ministry leaders. Our passion for Jesus and people was well matched and we decided serving side by side helping others was something we could do our entire lives. We were married three years later in Portland, OR. I work as a full time youth pastor at 2nd Street Community Church . My wife Krista is a part time administrative assistant at the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends, a board member for Love Inc Newberg and a volunteer mentor in Love Inc’s weekly relational ministry program.
Will I ever be able to retire?
When I was 24 I went to my first “pastors conference.” The conference itself wasn’t all that memorable (sorry conference speaker) but I had one conversation there that shocked me. An older pastor who had over 50 years of experience shared with me that he couldn’t stop working because he had almost NOTHING saved for retirement. He had resigned himself to the idea that he would have to work until he no longer was physically capable of doing so. He was continually asking himself “will I ever be able to retire?” How effective can you be in whatever field you’re in if that is fear is weighing on you?
When I came home I vowed that no matter if I was making $75,000 (probably won’t ever happen) or $15,000 a year, I would make sure my financial future was secure. The longer I have worked as a pastor the more I have realized that this one gentleman wasn’t alone. A remarkable number of us are ill prepared to face retirement.
There is often a shared sentiment that “God will take care of me” among pastors, which causes them to live above their means.
I certainly believe that “God will provide” but I also believe that I have a responsibility to be a good caretaker of the money given to me. I’m a pastor, it is unreasonable for me to expect to take an international vacation every year, drive a new BMW or Mercedes or buy my food at Zupans. It is reasonable for me to take the occasional vacation at the coast, drive a used Honda and shop at Trader Joes. God doesn’t “provide” for me to be irresponsible, God also gave us logic.
What’s life like for me?
So now to the nitty gritty. As you can imagine, working as a youth pastor isn’t the most lucrative of professions. Don’t get me wrong, the church I work for is incredibly generous with me – I have a retirement matching program that rivals most of my friends working in business or engineering. However, I certainly don’t pull in a huge salary. I have a masters degree, work full time, and get paid about $28,000 annually after taxes. In total my wife and I make about $44,000 in annual net pay.
Here is some of what we have been able to do with that money in the two and a half years we have been married:
- Pay cash for grad school to the tune of $24,000. My wife just finished her masters in Dec, 2013.
- Pay off over $20,000 in student loan debt, all accrued from our undergraduate education. We only have $3,700 left to go.
- Pay cash for our new (to us) Honda Civic – a sweet ride that set us back about $7,900. We are huge Honda fans.
- Save 15% of our income for retirement. Once our loans are payed off this will go up to 25%.
- Give away 12% of our income each year to organizations, individuals and causes we support.
While we are proud of those first 4 things, it is the fifth one we find real joy in. It is awesome to be able to be generous with others, we do so because of how great it feels to use your wealth to be a blessing to other people. By lowering our expectations and focusing on GameChangers (radical choices that increase your income or decrease your spending) my wife and I are on track to retire in our mid 50′s live very comfortably and just maybe live out our wildest financial dream, giving away half of our money.
The story behind “2 Copper Coins”
[Editor's note: I was curious about Jon and Krista's blog name, "2 Copper Coins" (mainly because I'm a coin collector, as you know ;)), and here's what they said about it]
We started our blog 2-copper-coins.com because we believe that no matter how much (or little) money you make, you can have an incredible life and be incredibly generous with your money. The title of our site comes from one of our favorite biblical stories, the widow giving all that she has. It comes from the gospel of Mark 12:41-44 (although it can also be found in Luke) this is how the story reads in the NIV:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Jesus commended this woman because of how generous she was given her circumstances. Where as many more wealthy people had thrown in huge sums of money, she had given all that she had. She realized that generosity is essential, no matter how much or little you have. That is what our blog is all about, how you can build wealth and be generous even if you work in a career that isn’t very financially lucrative.
All of this is possible because we got honest about our finances, sought help where we needed it, and became really comfortable with the word ‘no.’
We invite you to embrace the lifestyle you can afford and secure your financial future too.
Big thanks again to Jon & Krista for sharing their story and mindset with us today. You can reach them at their blog over at 2-Copper-Coins.com (d’uh), or tweet with them over at @2CopperCoins. Hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did :)
[Photo of old pesos by Clearly Ambiguous]