Devin D. Thorpe brings a broad perspective to financial planning, having owned and operated an investment-banking firm—which included an investment advisory business—a mortgage brokerage and having served in a variety of corporate finance positions.
Presently, Devin serves as a business professor at South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, China on behalf of Brigham Young University’s Kennedy Center China Teachers program. Previously, he served as the Chief Financial Officer for the multinational company MonaVie, listed in Inc. Magazine’s 2009 Inc. 500 as the 18th fastest growing company in America and, at $834 million in revenue, the third largest company on the list. Prior experience includes two years working on the staff of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee during Utah Senator Jake Garn’s tenure. He also served briefly in Utah State Government, working at USTAR under Governor Jon Huntsman.
He earned an MBA with focus in Finance and Accounting from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. He completed his undergraduate degree in finance at the University of Utah, where he later worked as an adjunct professor of finance. In 2006, Devin was recognized by the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah as a Distinguished Alum.
In the Church, Devin presently serves as a seminary and institute teacher along with his wife, Gail. Previously, he served as a counselor in a stake presidency, a counselor in a bishopric, ward executive secretary, young men’s president, assistant scout master, three times as an assistant ward clerk, and in more elders quorum presidencies than he can count.
Devin ran his first marathon in 2011, finishing in 4:35.
Building Wealth for Building the Kingdom is available for Kindle and Nook. Purchase the book at Devin’s website, www.bw4bk.tumblr.com
About Building Wealth for Building the Kingdom
Building Wealth for Building the Kingdom is a simple, practical guide to help LDS families organize their personal financial plans to meet their unique goals. The book provides simple answers to questions like:
How much should I be saving each month for my son’s mission?
How much should I be saving each month for my children’s college education?
How can I save enough to be able to retire while I’m healthy enough to serve a mission?
Avoiding tips on pinching pennies, the book focuses on opportunities to save thousands or tens of thousands of dollars by making smart moves with big decisions, like home and car purchases.
Mormon families will appreciate the gospel-centered, scripture-based focus on putting tithing at the center of a financial plan. Building Wealth for Building the Kingdom will help prepare families to enjoy the benefits of their labor while simultaneously contributing to the growth of Church.
Chapter 1: Introduction
But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
– Jacob 2:18-19
This book has been written for those Latter-day Saints (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) who believe that it is more important to do good than to do well. That is to say, it is written for you because you believe it is more important to raise a good family, attend to your Church duties, send your children on missions and pay tithing than it is for you to accumulate wealth. You may, therefore, lack adequate financial planning. The objective of this book is to help you to prepare financially to render any service that you may be called to give.
Brigham Young best expressed what has become the theme for this book. He said, “If, by industrious habits and honorable dealings, you obtain thousands or millions, little or much, it is your duty to use all that is put in your possession, as judiciously as you have knowledge, to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth.”
What Brigham Young suggests is something akin to consecration. The Church does not now require that we currently share all of our wealth directly with the Church or that we keep all things in common. Instead, we live a preparatory law of tithing and the payment of offerings. Beyond that, we give to the Church much of our free time. We save and invest our money to prepare our children to enter life as contributing members of the Church. We save and invest to send our children on missions and to serve missions ourselves.
This preparatory law is good preparation for living the higher law. So much of our time, talents and resources are already dedicated directly to building the kingdom that to go to the next step of fully consecrating our assets and income to the Lord should become relatively simple. It is not inappropriate to consider financial planning from the standpoint of preparing ourselves for living this higher law.
Self-reliance is a fundamental precept of our Latter-day religion. President Hinckley explained this concept in an interview with the BBC in 1995, saying:
We teach emphatically the importance of self-reliance, the importance of education, of equipping our people so they can earn a living; the importance of saving and being prudent in the management of their affairs; the importance of setting something aside, a reserve, to take care of their needs if there should come a rainy day in their lives. And it’s amazing how many follow that teaching. That’s basic with us.
This desire for self-reliance, therefore, further defines who we are as Latter-day Saints and how we approach the task of financial planning. Our objective, therefore, is to be able to provide for ourselves and our family members all of the things we desire them to have—without reliance upon a government dole or help from the Church.
Although you may never have thought about it before, your perspective on financial planning is likely somewhat different than other people’s. The motivations you may have as a Latter-day Saint in accumulating wealth are likely associated with a desire to render service to others, to build up the Lord’s Kingdom, to prepare yourself to live the law of consecration and, finally, a desire to be self-reliant.
Latter-day Saints face financial challenges different from other groups of people. Our financial planning issues are different due to an identifiable set of issues that distinguish us from other people.
Tithing is not uniquely an LDS doctrine, but few other religionists practice a ten percent tithe with the commitment of the Latter-day Saints. The Saints practice the law of tithing with enthusiasm that may result in part from relief at not being asked to practice the higher law of consecration.
Latter-day Saints are recognized as having large families. Having adopted the Lord’s admonition to “be fruitful, multiply and replenish the Earth,”[iii] given to Adam and Eve as being a relevant command in 2012, the Saints do have larger families, on average, than other Americans. The number of children we have creates a financial planning challenge—particularly as respects education.
Missions, not only for our young men, but also for our daughters and ourselves, create a distinction in our financial planning from financial planning for those of other faiths. Missions are, perhaps, one of the easiest financial objectives for which we can prepare if we start the process early. Missions as couples in retirement needn’t require substantial wealth, but planning and preparation are nonetheless important.
After considering all of the peculiar financial planning aspects of Latter-day Saints, it is also important to put the traditional issues of education, home ownership, retirement, etc. into an LDS context.
While Latter-day Saints do have a significant set of financial planning issues in common, each family will have a different set of particulars. It is important, therefore, to seek the advice of competent advisors (this may not be your brother-in-law). Such advisors should include a CPA to advise you on tax planning issues, insurance agents to help you with both life insurance and casualty insurance policies, a stockbroker and or a financial planner to help you with your investments. Remember, however, that this is your money. You should be making the decisions based upon your best judgment after gathering information from all appropriate sources. Until and unless you approach an age or condition where you, or others, question your competence to make such decisions, you should take responsibility. Remember, your stockbroker doesn’t have to live off of your investments, but eventually you will.
Book Structure and Outline
As you read this book, it will be helpful for you to understand the organization of the book. Each chapter will provide a discussion of an element of your financial plan from tithing to taxes and from missions to education. The focus of the book will be on the practical steps that you will need to undertake to have a successful financial plan.
At the end of each chapter, you will find a short list of action items that summarize or distill the discussion to a set of simple tasks. These tasks, from chapter to chapter, will overlap and repeat occasionally. Consider each to be a reminder of the actions you should be taking to maximize your financial plan.
1. Read the book.
2. Apply the concepts to your particular circumstance.
3. Identify advisors who can help you put the concepts into action.
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