(The following is a transcription from a video Linda and I recorded. Please excuse any typos or errors.)
We’ve recorded a video about “8 Habits of Wealthy and Successful People.” And one of the things that they did, was that they keep track. This is actually something that we had already been thinking and talking a lot about recently.
Well we made a shift a little while ago. I’ve been tracking our AUM (aka net worth), which is assets. Everything you own minus: your liabilities and your debts. And, that gives you a number which is your AUM.
It’s a really simple thing to figure out. A lot of people think it’s a really complicated calculation.
It’s not, it’s really easy. It’s a good number to determine whether or not you’re going forward financially, or backward. And that’s why I love it because it’s one simple number. And we started tracking this many, many years ago.
We Were In The Negative
We had a negative AUM, so it was a very humble beginning with our AUM calculation. But as we’ve made smarter financial decisions and we’ve watched that number go up and that’s been fun.
Ever since we were dating, we both have sensed this call on our lives to be able to give a lot of money away. We want to be able to give millions of dollars away to support causes we believe in, to fund and finance kingdom activities and just to be used by God and whatever capacity through our giving.
Somewhere along the line, it dawned on me that we have two things that are fighting against each other. Our AUM tracking and our desire to give away a lot of money. When we give money away, it pulls our AUM number down. So these two are working against each other and just fighting each other. There’s a tension there because I found myself not wanting to give as much because it was going to make our AUM go down. And because I’m a numbers guy, I just want to see that number go up, you know?
Taking My Frustration To God
And that tension was just eating at me. I was praying about this and I felt like God showed me… why don’t you start tracking your giving? From that point we started tracking what we call our Net Given. Essentially it’s just a simple spreadsheet where we track how much we give each month and now that is our primary metric for success because it lines up with our goal of giving a lot of money away.
It was a game changer for us because it made giving something that can be tracked. It eliminated that frustration and that tension. And it made giving more fun and it excites us. We get to watch our Net Given number rise. It’s just really, really fun. That is the more important number to us.
It’s a number that has eternal value. You know what I mean? Net Given is something that I’m really glad we began to track. And the funny thing is, and this shouldn’t be a surprise, you would think that by tracking your Net Given it will show a reduction in your AUM. But what we found is the opposite. We found that as we keep our giving going up and we keep our Net Given increasing, our AUM (aka net worth) actually goes up lockstep with it. It makes no sense in the natural world.
It’s pretty amazing. But that’s how God works. His ways are not our ways. He does things that the ways of the kingdom or the laws of the kingdom seem to be opposite of what they are on earth and so yeah, that’s been really fun.
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How Do You Track Net Given?
The gist of it is just a simple spreadsheet where we track: what gift we have given, how much it cost, the date and maybe the reason for the gift. Some of these columns aren’t necessarily necessary, but we like having them there. Any opportunity we have to give, we list it on the sheet so we can track our giving.
I’ll have my spreadsheet below for you to download and use a template to track your own Net Given.
Budgeting For Giving
One of the ways we do this is we have a giving category in our budget. First of all, that is one of the best things that we ever did. It was a game changer for us. It made giving at least five times more fun.
So we pull money out of our budgeting category for giving when we give to our church, other ministries and some not-for-profits or organizations that have personally ministered to us that we want to give support to.
Basically the rest of the money in our giving category, whatever’s left over, is money that we can just give to individuals. Random stuff. Cash we want to have on hand for whenever we feel the Lord tugging on our heart to do something.
For example, a GoFundMe cause maybe something we give to with the left over funds in our giving budget. Or, maybe a gift for a birthday. I don’t have to decide if we’re going to buy groceries with this money or if I’m going to buy my mom a present, you know? It makes it so much easier to give knowing the money is already there to give.
We have it budgeted. It’s just sitting there waiting to be spent and it’s just a game changer. It really makes it so much easier and funner to give onto others. So if you don’t already budget for giving, definitely include giving into your budget. We really highly recommend it.
My Meeting With A Life Coach
When I was about 23 or 24, somewhere in there, I went and met with a life coach, but and he didn’t call himself a life coach. I’m giving him that term, I’m calling him a life coach. But basically he was a guy who was really successful. He’s a man of God and somebody I looked up to.
I was at a point in my life where I felt everything but successful. I felt very unsuccessful. I felt like nothing was really working out. And I just wanted some wisdom and advice on how to get unstuck, if you will.
We went and sat down at the Cheesecake Factory. And, we were having lunch. He’s a very direct guy and he says, “All right, well what do you want?” I wasn’t sure what he was asking. Like, are you talking about ordering food right now, or are you talking about what I want out of life? And he’s like, “Out of life, what do you want?” I didn’t know. And he just drilled me.
Ultimately I said, “well, I want to be able to make this amount of money. Like that’d be really nice and good for my family. I feel I’d be able to provide for them better.” And he responded, “Okay, great. Write it down.” Then he asked “What else?” We got to the point where I’m talking about giving. I told him that I want to give away this much money. And it was considerably more than the number I said I on how much I wanted to make.
He responded, “That doesn’t make any sense, you can’t do that. That just doesn’t make any sense.” He’s thinking mathematically, that you just can’t do that. If you’re only tithing that amount, you’re not going to give the amount of money you’re wanting to give away. But, this was my goal. If I’m going to have a ridiculous goal of giving away that amount of money, I want this to be the ridiculous goal. Let it be my ridiculous goal.
I realized if this was my goal, it just seemed like the better thing to do was to track my actual giving. And to track my Net Given rather than chasing the highest number of earnings I could possibly earn. That just seemed like a shortsighted, unfulfilling goal. I was just trying to earn as much money as I could. Or accumulate as much as I can. So that was part of the driving force behind this whole idea of tracking our giving.
We Started To Track Our Giving
What was really exciting, is that I felt when we really did not have much money at all, we still had this desire in our heart to give. And so we started tracking our giving and it was exciting to be able to see that number go up. Even though we still had a ton of debt and we still had other things that we needed. We were in a hole financially that we needed to dig ourselves out of, but the number that actually meant the most to us was how much we gave. We watched our Net Given go up even when we were not in the best state financially. And this number continues to increase with time.
If you want to join us and start tracking your net given, we’d love for you to join us! Download the spreadsheet below and make a copy for yourself, so you can start tracking today. Let us know how tracking your Net Given has changed your view on financial success!
We welcome you on this journey with us! Be Blessed. Be a Blessing.