Guest Post: A Primer On Winning With Money

Mike Jones has been one of my best friends since we were in High School. We don’t see eye to eye on everything, and certain areas of money management fall under that. However, he’s been winning with money longer than most people our age. I think he’s got great ideas about helping young people do the same. This is the first in a three part series from Mike, so make sure you stay tuned over the next three Tuesdays. You can follow Mike on twitter, or get a hold of him through e-mail

Getting Started

Hello everyone!  First, let me set your expectations by stating that I am NOT a writer. That’s not to say that I don’t have my moments of writing genius, but I don’t have a particular voice and I’m not going to win any awards. Now that you won’t be disappointed, let’s jump into a discussion about being young and managing your finances.

I won’t call myself an expert in managing finances, but I’ve been balancing a checkbook and investing since I was 15. From an early age, I was fascinated with building wealth and making sure that I had plenty of money.  For me, money is a way to keep score in life – particularly in business. Now, that clearly conflicts with several messages in the Bible, such as

“No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)


“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where you treasure is, there you heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).

It’s been difficult for me to balance over the years, but I think that I’m starting to get the hang of it.

In addition to managing my finances as a hobby, I am a Certified Public Accountant, CPA, and a licensed residential mortgage loan originator. Those two titles mean that I deal with personal finances on a daily basis and I’ve seen both the good and bad side.

You’ve probably heard this before, but God has placed you as a steward over the finances that he has provided to you. As such, it is your responsibility to make sure that you handle his gift wisely. Over the next few weeks we are going to look at a few key areas of finances: the basics of financial management, debt and and taxes, and some practical steps for young people to take with their money.

So You Graduated And Got A Job

Managing your finances for the first time out of college can be a scary and exciting prospect. If you were able to snag a job right after graduating, congratulations! You are now likely receiving more money than all of your pre-college graduation years combined. And, if you’re like most young people, you have a lot of pent up spending to take care of.

One of the first, and possibly the worst, purchases is a vehicle. A vehicle is not a wise choice for several reasons, but the most important is that it is a depreciating asset. The moment that you drive a car off the lot and sign the papers, it immediately loses several thousand dollars in value.

If you absolutely must purchase a car after graduating, get a used, but reliable vehicle that will take care of you for roughly 5 years. After 5 years, you will likely be getting married and starting a family which means that your vehicle choice may need to change.  If you can keep the vehicle longer, more power to you.

Most college graduates are also dealing with student loans. Luckily, most student loans are deferred for at least 6 months, which means that you get a bit of a breather once you start out. But, it is important for you to consider those payments in your budget up front. By setting this money aside, hopefully into savings or paying down other debt, you will already account for this money and it will not be a shock when you start making the payments a few months down the road.

Unless absolutely necessary, don’t opt to have the “graduated” payment plan. This payment plan allows for your student loan payments to be less initially, but the monthly payments increase substantially over time to make up for lost ground. I would not recommend this because you are only robbing Peter to pay Paul and who knows what your financial needs will be down the road. Be disciplined and pay the standard amount each month, if not more.

Don’t Get Caught Without A Cushion

An absolute necessity is creating a cushion of savings. Most financial experts will agree that you need at least 6 months of savings in order to be financially secure. This means that you have enough saved in the bank that you could cover your rent or mortgage, your student loans, car payment, and pay your monthly grocery and utility bills in the event that you lost your job or became unable to work. The more that you aggressively save up front, the less you have to worry over time.

Let’s briefly discuss medical/health insurance. Only you know your preferences and prior medical history, but you could be making a life altering decision depending on the type of coverage that you choose.  If you do not obtain enough coverage, a disease or accident could literally ruin your financial future. On the flip side, if you’re paying too much each month, you could be missing on opportunities to save and invest.

There are many individuals that are independent of the big agencies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, etc. These individuals have access to a number of carriers and will let you shop for the best policy. Another coverage to consider is accident or critical illness coverage like Aflac. Insurance coverage like this will provide you with additional financial security if you hurt yourself or you are diagnosed with cancer; the monthly payments are usually fairly cheap and can save you a substantial amount of money in the long run.

A Final Word

No discussion on Christian budgeting would be complete without covering tithing. This is one area that I have always struggled with. This is a shame, because I know that God provides me with the success that I do experience and He will bless me (non-financially) by giving with a joyful heart. When budgeting, especially for the first time, be sure to factor your 10% (or more) into your budget up front. This will allow you financial freedom by not having to find a place down the road for giving – it will already be established.

That pretty much covered the basics. As a summary, creating a manageable and effective budget will not only allow you to be successful, but it will give you peace of mind.

Grace & Peace,


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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Guest Post


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Thank You

If you used to be a reader of this will seem a bit familiar to you. If not, great. Either way I think you should take the time to give it a read today.

We have a problem saying thank you. Because we have a problem saying thank you, many of us have a problem receiving a thank you. I don’t think we have any issue saying the actual words. We say them all the time. To a waiter or waitress, to a spouse when they do something for us, to a friend when they’ve helped us out. We say a cursory “Thanks” without eye contact and in our best mumble more times a day than I care to think about.

No, our issue is with genuine, sincere thanks to another person.

Over the last few semesters I’ve had a few classes that I seem to miss (for real reasons – I don’t skip), and there’s been a person in each of those classes that has taken notes for me when I’ve been gone. In 2013 it’s not a huge deal to give someone notes they missed. Most people type them and all they have to do is copy and paste it into an e-mail. But it’s still a bit out of the way of their normal activity.

So I buy them Sonic gift cards and a thank you card. It’s not much, but it’s more than an obligatory “thanks” under the breath and then being moved on from.

Hillary and I also try to do this when someone watches Dobby for us. We’re rarely gone for more than 24-36 hours, so all we need is someone to come let him out to go to the bathroom a few times, and eat once or twice until we get back. I’t never for very long, and it doesn’t take much, but we’re still incredible thankful for the people who have been bale to do it for us over the past year.

So we buy them Sonic gift cards. Again, it’s not much but we want people to know how thankful we are.

We’re working more and more to make thankfulness and gratitude a part of who we are.

More often than not though, there’s a bit of resistance from the person we’re thanking. I even got made fun of by mutual friends of someone who took notes for me. I got made fun of for trying to show appreciation. It blows my mind.

Like I said, we’re just now working to make this a part of who we are and we’re by no means perfect at it, or do it every time we should. But we’re working at it.

Being intentionally thankful about some things has made me aware of all the things I have to be thankful for. I’m willing to bet it can do the same for you.

I’f you’ve go a Case of the Mondays right now, I’d challenge you to think about how thankful and grateful you are on a regular basis. Spend some time thinking of the things people have done for you lately and make time to actually thank them in some way shape or from. When you start making thankfulness a part of your daily routine you might be surprised at all the things you have to be thankful for.


What’s the most memorable thanks you’ve ever gotten? How can you “pay it forward” to someone else?


Grace & Peace,


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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in Cases of Mondays


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Who Is The Amish Hipster: An Interview With Josh Hostetler

Josh Hostetler is a fairly new friend. We met this week in an “experiment” put on by Jon Acuff. We’ve spent some time talking and getting to know each other and I knew pretty quickly that I had to feature him on the blog for you guys; Josh has a pretty cool story and I’m really excited to share it! Be sure to connect with him through his social media accounts provided at the end of this interview.

Tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

Hey! My name is Josh Hostetler, and I am the man behind the Amish Hipster. I live in Austin, Texas, but I am not allergic to gluten. Before I moved to Austin, I grew up in Sarasota, Fl, graduated from the University of Florida, and  lived in Mexico and Guatemala.

Before we begin this interview, I think some definitions would be helpful. I found these at

Anabaptist: A Christian movement rooted in the Protestant Reformation. Anabaptists believe in baptism for adults only, nonresistance, the separation of church and state, and simplicity. Early Anabaptists believed they should live separated from the world around them. The best-known Anabaptist churches in the United States are the Amish and Mennonite. In the 1600s, many Swiss Anabaptists fled religious persecution from Germany and Switzerland to the United States.

Amish: The Amish, descendants of the Swiss Anabaptists, are known for their distinctive, plain clothes as well as their commitment to rejecting modern technology, including in some cases cars and electricity. They base their morals and way of life on the Bible, which they interpret literally, and on unwritten rules known as the Ordnung.

Mennonite: Mennonites trace their origins to the Swiss Anabaptist movement of the 16th century. Today, there are several kinds of Mennonite communities in North America. Old Order Mennonites are quite similar to the Amish in dress and rejection of modern conveniences, but many other Mennonites wear contemporary clothing, live in urban communities and are distinguished chiefly by a commitment to social justice and the peace movement. One Mennonite church can be very different from another Mennonite church, just as two Baptist churches can be very different from each other.

Your mom and dad were raised Amish and Mennonite respectively. Both in the same county in Ohio. But never met until they both happened to move to Sarasota, Florida. First of all, that’s crazy! Did they leave that “lifestyle” behind, or find something similar there?

To be exact, my mother grew up in an Amish household, and my dad grew up in a conservative Mennonite household. Prior to moving to Florida, my mom left the Amish lifestyle*. However, my mom and dad both joined a Mennonite church in Sarasota, Fl. It is very common for Amish people to join a Mennonite church after leaving the Amish. The theology is similar, but Mennonites can use cars, electricity, etc. So it was similar, but definitely different.

*Many people ask if my mom was “shunned” by her family. My grandparents were a part of New Order Amish who do not shun family members that leave, and I have many great memories of spending summers on grandma and grandpa’s farm. I’m blessed to be a part of the Kaufman and Hostetler families.

What did that mean for your social upbringing? Were you raised fully in that culture?

I grew up in Bethel Mennonite church in Sarasota, Florida. Bethel is part of the Conservative Mennonite conference, but my church experience is probably very similar to others who grew up in a church. I went to Sunday School, I got grass stains on my pants playing football after church, and we drove to church in cars. Some differences were many of the women wore head coverings, our worship team didn’t have a drummer for most of my childhood, and my family’s Sunday dinner was probably better than everyone else’s. That last part is definitely true.

I’m also not an incredible dancer, and I would like to blame this on growing up in a culture that does not promote dancing.

Your twitter bio boasted at one point of “leaving the buggies behind”. Is that real, or a joke, or both…?

I’ve always lived in the land of gas-powered vehicles. There aren’t any buggies that I know of in Sarasota, Fl.

How much of the Amish/Mennonite/“conservative” background is still a part of your life today?

Amish/Mennonite is similar to Judaism in the following aspect. Judaism has an ethnic identity and a faith identity.

First, Anabaptists have an ethnic identity. Some names you might find in a Mennonite church directory are Beachy, Hostetler, Miller, Swartzentruber, Schlabach, Yoder, etc. Whenever I meet someone who has an Anabaptist background, we often play the Mennonite game: trying to figure out which friends or family we have in common. I once dated a Mennonite girl and I made her check to see if we were related. She was an acceptable 8th cousin. These are the problems we face.

On a personal spiritual level, I identify myself first as a sinner saved by the grace of God, and as someone who aims to reflect Christ’s love to the people I interact with. I am very proud of my Mennonite heritage, and it’s theology influences me strongly in certain areas, specifically non-resistance. However, I do like to attempt this thing people call dancing and I do love Shiner beers. I don’t think anything’s wrong with dancing or drinking, nor do I judge those that do. Those are just my personal beliefs.

So, after college you taught in Mexico for a year. What led to that decision?

I worked with my dad’s construction crew every summer after 7th grade. Many of dad’s workers were Hispanic, and they treated me like a little brother. They’d pass chile pepper sandwiches at lunch time, and make me eat them because “American men aren’t very macho because they don’t eat chile peppers.” As a result of these chile pepper sandwiches,  I became a self-described macho man and developed a strong love for the Spanish language and the people of Central America. I double majored in Spanish at the University of Florida, and decided I would live in a Central American country after college.

What was it like?

I taught English in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. The people of Los Mochis are super hospitable. My church practically adopted me as one of their sons. They would invite me to their homes for dinner after lessons. Oh, and the food of Los Mochis is delicious. Every night I would eat an amazing meal for less than $5. It was a great nine months, and I’m fortunate to still stay in contact with them through Facebook. I have yet to find a good carne asada in Austin that can compare with Los Mochis.

And now you’ve been in Austin for a few years. That’s three pretty different cultures…what’s the adjustment, or culture shock, process been like?

I love Austin. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else. Except for the occasional head twist when the thong guy rides his bike past me, there’s been relatively little culture shock.

What’s been the easiest part?

I live in a city where creativity is encouraged. There is no race “to finish life first”. Back home, most of my friends are married or are already set on a career track that they will probably follow for the rest of their lives. Many of my Austin friends have left secure jobs in order to pursue their dreams. I find that inspiring and contagious.

The hardest part?

I’m one of four siblings, the four J’s as we call ourselves. They all live in Florida, as do my parents, and I do wish I lived much closer to them. I really do. I might move back one day to be closer to my family.

The church you go to now in Austin, Vox Veniae, I would imagine is a little different than the church you grew up in. What drew you to it?

The first time I went to Vox, I went with a girl I was dating to hear her housemate speak. I immediately felt I had entered a church that really valued community. It’s on the east side of Austin, a traditionally rougher side of the city, and Vox strives to be a light in the community. Many of our members live on the East side, as we feel it’s important to live in the community we serve. Vox also has a culture that encourages questioning, yet we believe in truths. That’s huge to me. There’s a significant amount of diversity in our church, as we were founded by the Austin Chinese immigrant church, but have attracted many forlorn white hipsters. It’s an interesting mix to say the least.

How do those differences work out in your personal faith life?

I’ve seen a lot of different types of churches. I grew up in a Mennonite church, worked with Church of Christ churches in Honduras, attended a Presbytarian church in college, a non-denominational church in Mexico, a reformed church in Austin, and now Vox Veniea. God has shown me that he is present in many different churches, despite our differences. From personal experience, I would rather pay attention to the people inside as opposed to the name outside the church.

Your twitter handle is @amishhipster, do you consider yourself a hipster? Has the Austin culture given you a bent towards that?

I’m totally not a hipster but many of my friends would disagree. I still eat bread and meat.

Ok, so…tell me about the Amish Hipster. There’s a twitter, there’s going to be a blog. What’s he about? is a humor blog, written through the eyes of Abe Beachy, a pretentious Amishman. Just as hipsters are pretentious, Abe Beachy is a very pretentious Amishman. He was the first one to think of growing a beard. He doesn’t understand the point of hitting a home run if you can’t make your own bat. When he went through a goth phase in middle school, he wore black hats every day. In this blog, Abe Beachy has moved from Holmes County, Ohio to Austin, Texas to escape all his Amish brethren and discover the hipster lifestyle in Austin. He’s disgusted to find that the Austin hipsters seem to be copying his style as well. The blog will be where he writes his discoveries. On the blog, you’ll encounter journal entries, answers to letters back home,  and other written stories, all written by “Abe Beachy”. Ya’ll will love him, he’s hilarious. He won’t really care if you read the blog though.

There’s a show called “Breaking Amish”, and another called “Amish Mafia”. In those shows and in other media outlets are the Amish people given a fair portrayal?

When I dream big about, I often dream of changing the national conversation about the Amish. These reality TV shows take young Amish and test their faith in front of a public audience. Can you imagine a “Breaking Christian”, “Breaking Judaism”, or a “Breaking Muslim” being approved for national TV? I can’t either. Imagine Muslim youth being tempted with pork in front of a national audience. We wouldn’t stand for it;  we shouldn’t stand for “Breaking Amish” either. I have so much respect for them and their faith. They are taken advantage of as a community because, well, they aren’t connected to the world like most other minority groups are. But you know what TLC? They’ve been boycotting your shows the entire time. As well as the rest of television.

How well do they respect the Amish folks they’re interacting with, or the Amish community at large?

To be honest, I have only watched “Amish in the City”, and I just watched one episode. I refuse to support the companies that produce their shows. In general, they treat the Amish like animals at the zoo. They seem to care very little about the Amish culture. Many of these reality TV people have left the Amish church a long time ago or are portraying completely false characters. I’m looking at you Amish Mafia.

In 2013 with all of the technology and Social Media that is such a huge part of so many first world cultures how viable is the Amish way of life?

It’s viable but you do have to make some sacrifices. For example, I have an Amish uncle who is an accountant. While he uses a computer at the workplace, he doesn’t use technology at home. Some Amish follow this practice. By not using as much technology, the Amish are great stewards of their money.

This is just my curiosity at work here…is that something you can…”get into”? Or do you have to be born into that community or way of life?

I know Amish missionaries that are in Haiti. They believe in spreading the gospel; they would love for people to join them. However, the Amish are a very unique community so it could seem difficult for an “outsider’ to “fit in” immediately.

Are there principles or ideals from the Amish and Mennonite communities that we can begin to work into our lives to…slow down a bit?

Pick one day each week and make it an “Amish sabbath”. Just rest and relax with your loved ones, and forget Facebook for the day. Have you ever tried shutting your phone off for a couple days? It’s a great feeling.

By living in communities and forsaking technology, the Amish entertain themselves by visiting with neighbors and loved ones. I have never seen a homeless Amish person. If one of their neighbors is struggling, the whole community knows and helps them get back on their feet. It is very difficult to grow up Amish and not feel a part of a community. We could definitely learn from this.

Anything else you want to share?

Look out for the launch of next week, hopefully by Friday. I want to have a lot of posts done in advance so I can see where the story of the Amish Hipster is going.

Also, thanks! This was fun.

Where can folks connect with you online?

twitter: @AmishHipster

instagram: @AmishHipster



Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Friday Interviews


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Ask And You Shall…

have asked.

That’s it.

We commonly associate the first part of that phrase, “ask and you shall”, with, “and you shall receive” and mis-attribute it to the Bible. What Matthew 7 actually says is this:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

I think that all too often when we use the phrase “ask and you shall receive”, we’re implying “exactly whatever it is you asked for”.

I have a hard time with that scripturally. I think there are times when that happens…but it’s when that prayer is asked in alignment with the will of God. When we’re praying to have His will made our will then our requests will be more in line with what God is already doing.

I’ve been asking of God a lot over the last few weeks. As I walk with students through the model prayer of Jesus in Matthew six I’ve been strengthening my own prayer life. Verse 11 says:

“Give us this day our daily bread”

How simple.

How shockingly simple a request. What we see when we look at this as a model for prayer is that God desires to hear our requests. God created everything. Knows everything. Sees everything. The thoughts and desires floating around in our heads are not surprises to Him.

But He still gives us opportunity to ask.

How exciting!

I don’t know exactly what Jesus meant in the passage from Matthew 7. I don’t think He meant that we will always get exactly what we ask for when we’re praying. I think that because I’ve never met anyone who has had that experience.

I do think it means there will always be an answer. God will always say yes or no. This way or that way. This thing or that thing. He will give some answer to our questions and requests. There is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. The answer is just not always what we want.

That doesn’t mean we don’t ask boldly though. We ask with utter faith of an answer. Whatever it may be.

Do you ever feel guilty asking God for something? What have you been asking about lately?

Grace & Peace,



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Don’t Be Stupid

The other day I saw a friend tweet about a a newish Nike ad campaign that says this:

lazy but tlaented


He the commented that I’d rather have someone who worked hard and was marginally talented than someone who thought they were too good to work hard at what they’re doing.

I just have one thing to say to Nike about this:

Don’t be stupid.

There’s already so much going around in our culture that talks about a generation that is unwilling to work for what they want or have…why on earth would you contribute to that?!

The simple explanation is that some of us believe it. Some of us are glad to see that. Some of us are glad that a multi-million (billion?) dollar world-wide company is giving us an excuse to rest on something we’re better at than others and not work at anything.

I just have one thing to say to those folks (myself included at times):

Don’t be stupid.

We’ve got to stop believing we’re entitled to things we haven’t worked for. I.E. Respect, Position, Authority. Our “talent” means very little to men and women who have been working hard at what they’re doing for 10, 15, and 20+ years. It means less to peers who work themselves to death to outperform us only to be given limited acknowledgement.

If you’re walking around with A Case of The Mondays today maybe it’s because you’ve relied too much on your talent. 

I believe God made people to be good at different things than other people. I believe he made some people incredibly gifted in some areas beyond what others might be able to accomplish. That’s fine. That’s ok.

It’s not an excuse not to work though. It’s a matter of stewardship.

If you’re talented don’t be lazy. Work harder.

Grace & peace,



Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Cases of Mondays


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