(The following is an abbreviated transcription from a video Linda and I recorded. Please excuse any typos or errors.)
Linda and I had a goal when we got married. We wanted to give away a lot of money.
Now we didn’t know how we would do this. But we knew that with God, all things are possible.
And although we started off with very little money, we have now given away $1 million by the time we turned 40.
When it comes to giving, there are two numbers that we use to track our progress. And I’ll share those spreadsheets with you in this article.
Now before we get into all the details, we recorded our discussion that you can listen to on our Podcast below. But, if you would rather read the full transcription, you can do so here in this article!
We were as broke as broke could be
Bob: So when Linda and I were first married, we were as broke as broke could be. We had a dream and a desire to give away millions of dollars, but to be honest, we had no idea how that would ever happen. Like I remember trying to come up with $10 to get a gift for a friend’s birthday party, like this was our reality when this whole thing started.
Linda: It was so much our desire to be able to bless people, and we just didn’t know how to do it because. Had no money coming in. I remember our pastor would do this thing. He would say, “you know, if you wanna pay off the building, you can spell million, whatever way you want.” You know, like he would make this joke.
And I just remember it thinking, okay. That is a funny joke because it was. But I also was thinking, why is this so funny to so many people in here? Like, why should we not be having the resources enough to be able to pay off this building? And why should, if we do have the resources, feel like it’s a joke that we actually would be generous with our money?
And it made me kind of sad and I just felt this like, I want to be one of those people that says yes to that kind of thing. Like when, when the opportunity comes calling, I wanna be in a position to say, yes. But at the same time, our reality was so different from what we felt in our hearts, and if we sat down and had this conversation fresh right now, we might feel like it was impossible again.
Linda: I don’t think that we have graduated from this moment of, oh yeah, well we just make a ton of money and this is just super easy for us.
Bob: Well, no, like up written on our wall where they’re here or other impossible goals. Yeah. Where it’s the same thing where I was just talking to somebody on our team the other day.
God wants to help us to do the impossible
Bob: I’m like, these are our goals. We can’t do them in our own strength, but why not try? Why live this small life where we’re not trying to go after things, knowing that God wants to help us do the impossible? And that he takes delight in doing the impossible through unlikely characters like us.
Writing down goals
Bob: Around that time, I feel like this whole thing was birthed out of me meeting with a life coach, and I went and sat down with this life coach. I remember basically him taking me through a goal setting exercise of basically writing down impossible goals. And I remember feeling almost depressed walking out of there as I wrote down these salaries.
Linda: I think we’ve all been there with the goal setting thing (here’s why I think you should set goals).
Bob: I just remember feeling. Just is such an exercise in futility, right? It’s so stupid. There’s no way I could ever earn that salary. There’s no way I could ever give that much. There’s no way I could ever accomplish any of these goals. But the thing is, I’m convinced that there was some tiny, small act of faith that was tied up in that because I knew I couldn’t do it.
Bob: I knew that God could, and that was the only way this could happen. Anyway, it was in all of that is I was writing down some of these goals and writing down salary goals and maybe financial goals and all this. And that was just sitting awkward, I just felt weird in my heart and I was like kind of thinking about, right, what is financial success?
So I started thinking through all the lenses of what everyone around me, all the books you read, like what they say financial success is. So that’s retiring early, getting the four hour work week, whatever… having a million dollars in the bank, or five or 10 million, whatever that number is. This is how so many people define financial success.
Having an eternal mindset as a Christian
Bob: And that’s why I was saying that I realized, wait a minute, as a Christian, we’re eternal. Like there’s no way financial success should be measured by how much we accumulate and the things that we accumulate on earth. So from that point, I realized, wait a minute, I think financial success for the Christian should be measured by what we give, not by what we accumulate.
So from that point, like everything shifted, it’s like, all right, so no longer am I just chasing the biggest bank account, but I’m gonna start chasing the most amount that I can give. I’m gonna start chasing the highest number that I can give away.
Tracking our giving
Bob: The first practical step of this (which you can steal) is that we started tracking our giving. If that was the most important thing to us, how much we’re giving, then we’re gonna start tracking that. Because what you measure, like that’s the thing that starts moving. That’s the thing that starts going forward. And so we began tracking our giving and created this sheet, you can download it here:
Download the Net Given Spreadsheet
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Bob: And we’ve been filling the sheet out for the last 15 years. So every time we give something, whether it’s to church, whether it’s buying dinner for a friend, whether it’s giving to a GoFundMe or giving to the guy in the corner. Whatever the thing is, we add to that sheet and we have a running total of how much that we’ve given from that point when we started.
Linda: I think this was one of the big keys to us being able to say, we gave away a million dollars. Like that sounds real fancy, but I think that there are so many other people who have done the same thing that might think that we sound fancy. It’s just that they haven’t tracked it and they don’t have the paper trail for it.
Bob: I’ll bet if you’ve been giving, you’ve been giving for a while in your life, whatever you’ve been a tither, something like that, I’ll bet you’ve given more than you realize. And this is why this is so powerful.
So I would grab that spreadsheet and go through and honestly try to go backwards. As far as you can. And add in from the previous years just to see cuz it’s super encouraging.
Accumulating as much as you can… for the right reason
Bob: And when you change your financial goal, like break off all the world system of: we’re just gonna accumulate as much as we possibly can. But like flip that to giving as much as you can. And it’s like, of course, take care of your family, go on a vacation. But at the end of the day, our financial success is determined by what we give.
And that is a game changing thing for so many people when the world around us. Just wants to tell us to accumulate and win based on how much you accumulate.
Tracking Net Given
Bob: So here is a look at the net given sheet. This is just real simple. And so literally when we give something, we give cash over to church or something, we will just mark it down in here. Or, if we take someone out to dinner, we’ll do that too.
Now you can obviously draw your own line of, if I gave someone a dollar, do I want to write that down? Like you can create your own threshold of where that is. Like, I think for us it’s about a hundred dollars right now and if it’s below that, we don’t normally add to the spreadsheet. But do whatever you want. Like the point of this is not to be some self congratulatory, pat yourself on the back we’re awesome type thing. But really to just focus our mind towards what is most important.
So rather than looking at your savings account every day or your net worth is to see is it going up? Is it going up? I’m feeling good about myself cuz my net worth is going up. But we’re trying to devalue this. And instead, switch that with where this is a thing that is our number one priority and we’re chasing after a goal that’s impacting people around us, that’s making the world a better place while impacting eternity. You know?
Bob: So it’s just a better thing. And that’s why it’s just been so helpful for us.
The excitement of tracking your giving
Bob: And I’m absolutely convinced that we would’ve never given away a million dollars had we not been focused on tracking it. Because it gets exciting and it’s fun watching that number go up. It’s fun looking at the end of the year seeing, wow, holy heck. Look at what we gave away by God’s grace!
Bob: Like what he’s been able to do through us, and we know where we came from. Like we know how unlikely this is. Like we know when we first started tracking our net given. Like the first year, we had a few hundred dollars listed on this spreadsheet. And then to watch what he did over the years, like it’s just been spectacular.
Linda: So, yeah. And we just wanna remind you, we’re putting all our chips on the table here. Like we’re, we’re giving you a lot of our personal information that I hope you know that this is not…
Bob: It’s not to brag, it’s not to boast.
Linda: This is not to brag on us. Because we absolutely know where the glory goes for all of this. But we hope that you understand that we’re giving this to you as an encouragement of what we have seen God do in our very humble regular lives.
Bob: Yeah. And our goal is for this, for you.
Bob: Like this is our goal, this is our job in life. Like our call, our ministry is to help you move down this path.
Bob: I want to be able to do this. Like I want you to be a seven figure giver.
Watch what can God can do through you
Bob: This is my desire for you. And so I want you to stretch beyond what you think is possible. Yeah. And look to God and what he can do in your life.
Bob: Even if you’ve never seen anything like that in your life, like God is able, cause I’m still trying to do this myself. Continue to stretch my faith beyond what I think is possible. And look to how big God is.
Bob: And I want you to do the same thing.
Linda: And as you’re doing this exercise, if you download this sheet and everything, ask the Lord for a goal for giving. And then like it, it gets really exciting when you watch him do something that you’re like, I did not see that coming. I am not nearly smart enough for that.
Linda: Like you get to go on an adventure with God and it is just so much fun.
Where we give money to
Bob: One of the things that people ask us a lot is, all right, where do you give? Like, a lot of people are curious, where’s that money going? Where has it gone? All this. And so I’m actually pull out a chart showing you exactly where that money goes currently, like how we break it out.
And this is a chart I pulled out of our book, Simple Money, Rich Life, which I think it’s in chapter 25 or something where we break all this. And so this is how we break it out.
Linda: Yeah. This is also not to give you like a rulebook for how you spend your money giving. This is just an idea of how we do it. Just to kind of get your juices flowing, right?
Bob: Yeah. Cuz it’s gonna be different for everybody.
Giving our age as a percentage
Bob: But, the way we break things out, and you might have heard this in another video, or if you read our book. We currently give our age as a percentage of our income. And so right now we’re 41.
At the time we wrote the book, we were 40 (so we’re giving 41% of our income this year). What we lived on is the 60% over here, and then we give a slice and I’ll just go through the numbers. I’ll scroll down. So we start giving to our local church. So we give 17% to our local church or percent to different organizations, ministries that we have personally. Fitted from, in one way or another, another 1% to businesses making an impact on the world. Okay?
And so, for example, we like supporting companies who don’t use slave labor to create their products. So you can go to some random, cheap store and find a really cheap piece of clothing that was possibly are probably not made very ethically. And we just prefer to sometimes buy things from companies where we know it costs more to us, but that the people creating it are treated a little better, paid a little bit better.
Linda: Yeah. Or a lot better.
Bob: And so we view that as giving and generosity. So that’s part of this equation as well. And then we give about 5% to ministries. They’re focused specifically on spreading the gospel.
Our Seed account
Bob: About 7% goes to our Seed Account – this is an account that we put money into each month that we use for spontaneous giving. Like whenever God drops a need on our heart. Or situation that we want to give money. The money sitting right there. And so that’s what that is.
And then there’s about 5% going to other organizations that are solving problems that have broken our hearts, that we feel like we have to do something. Because we’re not all called to give to everything.
Bob: Like God puts different things on each one of our hearts, and we have things that he’s put on our hearts that we know, all right we need to support this financially. And then we have about 1% or probably less, I guess, going to a sponsored child at this point. And I think we’re about to have two or three of those as well.
So that’s pretty much our breakdown in how we break it out for ourselves. We’re just really excited about this sheet and the power and like what this thing has done for us. At this point, we’ve been doing this for over 15 years. It’s two years later if we reset million dollar mark and we’re now at $1,133,112.
Thank you God
Bob: And I just look at that and I’m like, I’m just so thankful.
Linda: Thank you for God.
Bob: Thank you Lord, that he allowed us to be able to do this, that he put us in this position to be able to do this.
Linda: And then he gave us the idea to track this as inspiration and encouragement to keep going, right?
Linda: It’s like we’re moving in the right direction. That’s what’s so exciting.
Bob: And it’s a number that we get to just continue to watch and just see what God does and to enjoy this journey and adventure with this whole thing.
So yeah, I encourage you to start doing this. It’s so simple. It’s so easy to do and I really think it helps orient your focus towards the eternity. And not just on this earth, not just accumulating for accumulation sake. So I hope you find it super helpful.
Bob: And with that, we thank you for watching.
Join us over on Instagram! We’re @seedtime over there. We’re pretty active over there and we’d love you to send us a DM and we’ll say hi.
That’s all for today. See ya!