The real reason why my financial life got betterBy Randell Tiongson on January 10th, 2024
A few months back, I published my book entitled Money By The Book. I have been wanting to write that particular book for the last 15 years but I felt I was not ready until recently. My life was a huge financial mess years ago and despite my best effort, I could not get myself out of the financial black hole I put myself into… until a major change in my life! I shared the reason for my financial enlightenment in the preface of my latest book and I also want to share it here.
If you are going through financial difficulties, I hope this post can help you.
PREFACE of Money By The Book
As I write this book, I have been involved in the world of finance for 35 years now. After graduating with a degree in Economics, I was immediately hired by a bank and was a management trainee on account management. A few years after, I moved to the life insurance industry where I stayed for almost two decades in different capacities. I have always been a finance person and I am truly fascinated and enamored by the rudiments of personal finance. At the young age of only 29 years old, I became a Mancom member of one the country’s top life insurance companies. My career in finance has been one great ride and my experience in the financial services industry paved the way for what I do today.
However, during my younger years I was a finance person who did not practice what he preached and I did not walk the talk. Finance was just work for me, it was just a means for me to make a living. I have always been blessed with the capacity to earn good money, earning my first million in my 20s and my being a hard worker also contributed to my ability to earn good income. Earning well and handling well are two different stories and much to my chagrin, I began to spend the money faster than I could make it. The foolishness of my younger years caused so much financial turmoil in my life that I became bankrupt and was buried in debt by the time I was in my 30s.
What went wrong? I knew all the personal finance principles and lessons so well that I could teach it to others and make a living out of it. However, I did not apply the learnings in my own life. You see, personal finance is about behavior, not head knowledge; money is really behavioral and not mechanical. I clearly had a behavior problem and that issue prevented me from applying important financial principles in my own life. Even if I became aware that my actions were wrong and even if I would change my actions, I found myself going back to the error of ways. It became a real struggle for me back then and I found myself in a deeper financial mess.
What changed? In 2007, Chinkee Tan, someone who I knew in my 20s shared the gospel to me and I eventually surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. As I began my wonderful discovery of a new life, I felt that the Lord wanted to change many things in my life—my ego, my relationships, and especially my financial life. While I know that there are many things that needed to change in me, my impression from the Lord was to “fix” my finances with urgency. Back then, I was wondering why the first instruction of the Lord to me was about my financial life. Little did I know that the Lord would use me to teach people about His principles on finance and wealth and that I would eventually be some sort of a minister in the field.
My biggest realization was this: I have always thought that the money I make is mine and subconsciously I felt I could do whatever I want with it. Until I encountered this truth—God owns everything. The Bible was clear that the Lord owns everything.
“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,” – Psalm 24:1
“Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.” Deuteronomy -10:14
“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.” -Haggai 2:8
If the Lord owns everything, then where do I fit in this equation? I am merely an administrator and a manage. Or what the Bible calls a steward.
The whole concept of us as mere stewards is actually a fundamental concept in the world of finance. Banks, insurance companies, investment companies and other financial institutions handle and manage a lot of money but it is not theirs, it is owned by others such as depositors, investors, policyholders, and the like. It uses terms such as AUM, which means Assets Under Management, which tells you that there are real owners of said money.
In the world of finance, the word we use is the concept of “fiduciary”. What is a fiduciary? Investopedia.com defines it as “a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person or persons, putting their clients’ interests ahead of their own, with a duty to preserve good faith and trust. Being a fiduciary thus requires being bound both legally and ethically to act in the other’s best interests.” Financial intermediaries are legally bound to be liable and answerable to regulators and the ultimately, to the real owners of the money.
Just as financial institutions and intermediaries are liable to the real owners of their assets, we are also liable to the real owner of our finances, the Lord. It is my belief that we will all face the great audit eventually and we will all be held accountable for everything the Lord has entrusted to us. After the audit, what I would want to hear from my Creator is this, “well-done my good and faithful servant.”
With the new found truth that God owns everything and I am His steward, I embarked on a life-long quest in knowing and understanding His will for finance and everything else. On top of reading and studying the Bible to know my creator better, I began to see that the Bible is also a book of instructions. Instructions to what? Instruction to righteous living, finance included. The Bible became the most important book in my life, and it also became the most important finance book for me.
In my study, I found out that money and possession was one of the most mentioned topics in the Bible. Here are some of my realizations:
- Jesus talked a great deal about money.
- About 16 of the 38 parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions.
- In the Gospels, an amazing one out of 10 verses (288 in all) deals directly with the subject of money.
- The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.
As I kept on reading and studying the Bible, I was exposed to this truth—God is anything but silent when it comes to money! But why? Is money more important than prayer and faith? It is definitely not. God knew that money and possessions will be man’s greatest obsession and our wrong beliefs and actions with regard to our finances will steer us away from Him. 1 Timothy 6:10 sums it up best: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
The intent of Money By The Book is to help the readers be exposed to the biblical truths on money and finance —truth that helped me get out of a huge financial mess of my own making and the truth that changed me, inside and out. While I feel that this book will be a big help to those seeking real financial wisdom, this book, and all other books written or to be written will never be a substitute the Word of God so it is best that you read the Bible and continue reading the Bible until such a time that we are home with Jesus Christ.
God bless you.
If you want to get a copy of Money By The Book, it’s only P350.00 per copy.
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