Integrating Faith, Family and Financial Decision Making with Deb Meyer (Part 2)
Deb Meyer is the founder of WorthyNest. A CPA firm focused on helping Christian families and entrepenuers understand how to mange and invest their money wisely and generously. Phil and Deb talk about the importance of not just using your money wisely but putting some thought into the motivation behind what your money is used for.
This is the second part of our interview with Deb Meyer on Integrating Faith, Family, and Financial Decision Making. If you haven't listened to the first part of this episode, check your podcast feed.
Hello, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of CPA Review and More. We are pleased to bring you the #1 podcast for CPAs and CPA candidates. If you'd like to learn more about how Yaeger CPA Review can help you, find us on our website at https://www.yaegercpareview.com. Now, here's your host, Phil Yaeger.
Now, how do—you work with predominantly Christian entrepreneurs?
And they're all over the country, right?
How about internationally? Do you have any international clients?
No, I try to stay away from international just because I'm not enough familiar enough with the different laws over there. I don't I don't feel like that's my area of expertise.
OK, and how do you get clients? What's your method for getting clients?
Interestingly enough, most of my clients come through online searches. So when I started Worthy Nest, I began blogging and I was actually really quite fortunate to get exposure to Kiplinger's building wealth channel. So I'm a contributor there. I contributed to Investopedia for a little while and I just maintained my own blog. I have a historical one on WorthyNest.com and then I since launched a book called Redefining Family Wealth. So I have a separate website for that where they do a new blog posts.
Is that a self-published book?
It is a self-published book, but with professional help. So I had the first draft I wrote on my own and then I went and hired a different company called Book Launchers to—they specialize in helping nonfiction authors who want to self publish, give it that professional look and help with distribution, all of that. So they took that first draft and actually got it across the finish line—many layers of editing. There's like four different types of editors.
I had no idea going into the process how many different editors you can have, but there's a content editor, a copy editor, a proofreader, I mean, just all over the map. And then when they help me release the book now, it's just kind of on my own. I haven't retain their services.
Does it sell well?
The book itself, I don't think is like a major seller, but it's definitely something I felt needed to be said. So I had really developed a love for writing when I started doing a blog post for worthiness. Again, I'm a person of faith, so I felt God calling me in this direction to spread that message more broadly. I would love to to sell a lot of copies.
Now, tell me how you give advice to Christian parents, Christian entrepreneurs, and what makes them different from any other entrepreneur? And how do you integrate faith and family into financial decision making.
That's an excellent question. Yeah, it's it's not really so much a science as it is an art. I think for a lot of my clients who started with me before I made that pivot to to focus exclusively on serving Christians, I still have some of those clients who are not people of faith that I have great relationships with. I just feel like I have to cut some of the conversations a little bit short in terms of what our values are and what we're working towards. So for Christian parents, a lot of us are really striving. We have this delicate balance of how do we build wealth in alignment with our values and not compromising those. There's a lot of Christian communities that say money is the root of all evil, and that's actually a myth. And money in and of itself is a tool. It's not the root of all evil.
[00:03:52] It's what you do with that money that can either be a blessing or a curse. Right? And if you make money, your God, then that's where you get into trouble. So I said, well, I'm saying if you use it in a bad way. So, like, if you're laundering money or doing some kind of fraudulent thing, you're obviously using it as more of a curse to hurt other people, not to benefit yourself. Right?
What does a Christian entrepeneur have which is different than any other entrepreneur.
Well, I think, again, when you're focused on Kingdom purposes, a lot of it is figuring out how you want to use that wealth that might have been accumulated in the business, especially in an exit planning scenario. Do you really need it for your family or could you use it to bless other families or invest in other businesses that are also there for for Christian purposes?
So I've been doing a lot of studying around faith driven investing and what that looks like both from a liquid investment standpoint, but also illiquid. So investing in communities overseas that need clean water or investing in communities here that fight homelessness. So there's a lot of different ways that you can partner. There's other companies that start help ex-convicts get back into an employed situation so that they don't have the recidivism rate. So there's a lot of really cool opportunities out there. And I think Christian entrepreneurs in particular have a lot of power to shape that trajectory going forward that people who aren't entrepreneurs don't have, and especially if they don't have that Christian focus. I don't know if they're as interested in and the charitable causes or the investments that are more focused on their faith.
What investments are more focused on the Christian faith? Give me an example.
There are biblically responsible investments. So as an example, there's some mutual funds and exchange traded funds like Praksis; Ave Maria is a Catholic mutual fund company. There are several different names I could list off, but those are all on the public equity and investment side. And then, as I mentioned, there's a lot of these other investments I'm starting to learn about that are illiquid private equity or other opportunities in real estate, things like that, where the company itself has a social mission behind it. So it's a pretty interesting space and it's just emerging.
Is there any non Christians involved in this type of thing? Or are the financial planners, all Christian?
Well, at least the groups that I'm affiliated with, yes, I do focus with others that are holding themselves out as Christian advisors. But I will say there's still a lot of Christian advisors that are doing it more from a marketing perspective. I'm just not one of them. I'm really focused on like, how can I use my God given talents, resources to better the world.
You advertise yourself as a Christian adviser that what you do?
Well, I mean, I'm saying I work with Christian parents. So, yes, naturally.
No, I'm listening to how you get all this business, and you're actually a very good entrepeneur. Because a lot of people will go into an area and they don't know where to start.
It sounds like you did a lot of research before you decide to do this. Correct?
Yes and no. I did a lot of self awareness and trying to figure out where my talents could be used. And for that stage of life, that's kind of what set me on the entrepreneurial path. And then since then, I've always just put a lot of focus around revisiting my reconnecting with why I even have this business. What's it used for? So it's been a pretty powerful journey, personally and professionally over the last couple of years
So you are networking with with a lot of these YMCAs and that type of thing? Is that what you do? You network a lot with these Christian organizations?
Not so much working in a traditional sense. Like I'm going up and shaking hands. It's more reaching out to other people that that work with Christian parents as well and...
Well what I'm saying about reaching out—how do you reach out? I mean, do you email people?
A lot of it's online, yeah.
Where do you find time for the three children?
[Laughs] Surprisingly, I fit it all in. I, well, again, I have some support in the companies now, so it's not just me. So on the accounting side, I have a tax director that focuses on our tax compliance for clients. And then I also have Matthew, who is based out of Tennessee. He works behind the scenes on both accounting work and some of the financial advisory work as well.
So you're the quarterback?
To me it's amazing how you put this all together. How'd you find these different people?
They've been presented at the right time.
You don't have a brick and mortar office, right? So it's all virtual, correct?
It is all virtual. Yes.
That can come about because of the COVID virus.
It was already virtual before covid.
That's interesting because I'm doing virtual as a result of the cold virus. I'm doing a virtual CPR review courses. Mm hmm. And we started in March when the virus really started. I read where someone said,
“Don't take the CPA exam now. The virus is going on. You won't be able to take the exam. You're just going to be so depressed that you won't even want to think about it.”
And then I heard that and I said, I'm going to run free webinars every Sunday, two hours, cover different topics. And I have another gentleman who I know, and we do it together, and it's actually—I didn't know what kind of meet there would be. I didn't know if people would like that. Yet, they don't mind it. They actually enjoy it. You know we use Zoom.
The only thing I miss from that is—I used to live CPA review, years ago—but things changed, so we couldn't do that anymore. I really enjoyed that because I guess deep down inside there's an entertainer in there. And actually, an entertainer that makes accounting fun. Right? Now, I got to tell you, I wouldn't go to any improv club and do CPA jokes.
[Laughs] You don't think people are going to want to hear accounting jokes?
But no, I actually do my classes for four months at a time and I get to really know these people. You are the first person I have met who gives entrepreneur and financial planning advice to Christian parents and Christian entrepreneurs. Now, tell me how you do this—you may have mentioned it: how do you integrate faith and family into financial decision making? Did you mention that to me?
I think I leaned in there a little bit but didn't explicitly say it. So, a lot of it, too, comes with having those deeper conversations with clients where we can openly talk about our values. And one of the first things I do with new clients is going through this values exercise to see, OK, if you're a married couple, you and your spouse independently look at this list of values and pick five to ten values that are important to you individually and then come together and pick one or two core values for your family.
So most Christians will find the same kind of core values that are driving their decision making. And then once we know what that core value is, let's just say it's generosity, as an example, then we can move it more into the goal setting.
So what does that look like on a practical level? If they want to increase their charitable giving from five percent to 10 percent a year? So once we move into that kind of goal setting measure, then I'm looking at the specific tactics. And in some cases it might be just being more tax advantageous with their charitable giving.
[00:12:33] So instead of writing a thousand dollar check to a charitable organization, they're actually gifting stock, or if they have a major transaction like an entrepreneur would, they're able to have a piece of the business proceeds go into a donor advised fund or a foundation, get that tax deduction, and then still have multiple years to actually give those grants out.
So there's a lot of different ways of structuring it. But again, it points back to that values conversation that we have early in the planning relationship. And that's, I think, what's unique about my approach and Worthy Nest.
Now it's financial values, right?
Yeah. Well, there are values that they have already in their household. It's just what are those financial implications? That's how I...
You don't get into any of their social issues, though, like their marriage. You're not a marriage counselor.
I'm not a marriage counselor. No.
Does that ever come up during the discussion?
Oh, yeah. Sometimes my clients are going through marital difficulty and I know about it, but they're seeing an outside therapist.
What happens if someone comes in and says, “You know, I thought I was very charitable, but really, when it comes down to talking with you, I realize the only reason I'm here on this earth is to make money. And only will I give to charities if it gives me a tax deduction. Have you run into any people like that?
Normally, I don't. I usually refer them elsewhere.
And if you do, what do you do? Do you show them the door? Is that what you do?
I don't show them the door. I just say I don't think this will be a great fit. And that's also a part of my planning process. I have a little screening tool to kind of see what people's values are around money even before that first meeting. So it's called a financial perspectives test.
[00:14:21] And I can see, are they altruistic or do they have a quiet or more flashy status about any financial wealth? So those kinds of things can indicate to me early on if it's going to be a good long-term fit.
[00:14:34] And I'm just interested in long-fit clients at this point.
Any enduring faith with financial planning?
Yeah. So I gave the example of the generosity most Christians want to, or do, tithe 10 percent of their income. That's just a normal Christian principle out of the Bible. And for them, some of them want to go above and beyond that 10 percent because they're Christian. Most people who are doing it for a tax write-off are not interested in going more or what, or they just don't even get close to 10 percent. So, again, that's a unique thing that I serve with Christians.
You know, I try to give to charities because I believe in their purpose and I think everyone should. But more so I did not want to be a CPA. And I became a CPA because I got a job teaching accounting at a community college. And then they made me head of the accounting department—without a CPA. And I thought to myself, “How am I getting here? I hate accounting!” You know? So I became chairman, and I said I better get the CPA. I got the CPA and changed my life.
And I think it changed your life too, right?
Because a lot of the things you're doing—I think a CPA is really good to have.
I look back now and I say, if I didn't have the CPA I couldn't do the CPA review, I wouldn't have been head of accounting there. I've moved on to CPA review and started a CPA review course, etcetera. So really, I think it's important, because it's what you said in the beginning: having the CPA, you don't have to be a bookkeeper anymore, doing debits and credits. There's so many other areas like financial planning, advisory services.
So that's what I try—a lot of my podcasts deal with that. And also, if I write anything on LinkedIn, I basically address [unintelligible]. And I think what you're doing is you're giving back, are you not?
Yeah, that's part of why I do what I do. When you ask how I do it all, I honestly don't know other than God's watching over me and helping me, getting getting the message out.
I don't know how you sleep. How do you sleep? How many hours do you sleep?
I actually get about anywhere from seven to eight hours every night.
I need to talk to you about my sleep problem. But anyway...wow, that's amazing. So you're really at peace with yourself. Right?
I am. I feel really good—what I'm doing and wearing that.
That's great. There's not too many people feel at peace with themselves. Do you find all the people you talk...that they're at peace with themselves after they deal with you?
Yeah. I think a lot of people that come work with me initially are not at peace with something. It's something that has a financial implication and they're just not sure how to navigate it. But as we work together over time, I definitely feel that transformation. Where a budgeting thing was a big issue before, they're not seeing it as a restriction anymore. They're seeing it more as freedom.
So I'm really focused on that transformation for my clients and for those that read the book. I'm actually working on an online course right now—or more of a guided program—in a group setting to help take more people through that journey than I can just work with one-on-one.
When are you going to do this online program? I'm trying to figure out the hours in the day.
[Laughs] I'm in the middle of the curriculum planning right now.
Do you clone yourself?
[Laughs] No. And ironically, I picked up my boys from school last week at three o'clock every day. [Laughs] I'm just very efficient with my time.
You're setting a bad example for other parents who really don't even pick them up on time.
I'm just saying it's—I think once you find your your lane that you want to focus in on the pieces, start falling together. And for those who are studying for the CPA exam, just bringing this full circle, because I know you work with CPA exam review, you're going to have a season of life where you won't be able to do a lot of these other projects. Like, you're going to have to hyper focus on passing that exam.
And that's exactly what I did. Like when I was actively single, no kids. I was working all the time and studying for the exam all the time. It left very little room for anything else. So once you get over that hurdle in milestone, it will be so worth it. But know that you're going to have some short term pain to get through to to make those things happen.
There's so many people today think they're going to get the CPA and not have to do a lot. And I'm trying to explain to them, 'cause all I say is, gee—you know I set up the schedules—study Saturday, Sunday—give me hours. When they call me back the next week, I feel like they're giving confession to me. You know? They're saying, “Phil, I didn't study last week. I feel terrible.” And I said, “First of all, I'm not a Catholic priest. Okay? You don't have to give me confession. What you do is you make it up next week.”
So anyway, Deb, you're probably saying, “Phil, time flew by”. Aren't you saying that?
It did. It did. It's only been five minutes. But anyway, no, it's flown by, and I really enjoyed talking to you and I enjoyed talking to your sister Jackie the other day.
I know it's gone by. And by the way, I really enjoyed talking to you and I enjoyed talking to your sister, Jacqui.
[Laughs] We have no relation.
No relationship. Okay. Anyway, Deb is a financial planner. Right?
And a certified exit planning advisor to Christian parents. She's got a niche. Is that right? It a niche in a way.
It's a niche.
You help Christian parents, and also, Christian entrepeneurs. And, I don't know how many there are of people like you, but this is the first time I've heard that. So that's a nice thing to do. It's a nice thing to do. You're helping people. And good luck with your move down to Florida. It sounds like you have a good family, and I wish you the best of luck with this. And also, I wish your husband the best and please stay safe. Be healthy.
Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for listening to my podcast CPA Review and More. If you have any comments about my podcast or you want to have certain areas talked about, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. And also, if you have any positive comments—negative comments call Deb...
If you have any positive comments, please write in with them. With the negative, keep them constructive. Okay? So take care everyone. We'll see you again for the next version—version? no—the next episode of CPA Review and More.
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