Devin D. Thorpe, author of Building Wealth for Building the Kingdom: A Financial Planning Guide for Latter-day Saint Families, lives in China and teaches business at a local University on behalf of Brigham Young University. Previously, Devin’s 25 year career in business included seven years running an investment banking firm as well as other corporate finance positions. He served an LDS Mission in Argentina. He earned an MBA from Cornell University after earning a BS in Finance from the University of Utah. More information is available at Devin’s blog: bw4bk.tumblr.com; follow @devinthorpe on Twitter; like Building Wealth for Building the Kingdom on Facebook.
About the Book:
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.
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 re-serve, 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.
Q: What motivated you to write the book?
My work on the book began 15 years ago, early in my business and financial career, because even with an MBA from Cornell University, I recognized that I had to research the answers to many of the questions that the book answers. If MBAs working in finance needed these tips, I figured many people would.
Q: What is the single most useful thing you have learned and how has it helped you as a writer?
Everyone has a desire to matter, to make a difference, to be significant. Most of us lack the courage to do the hard things that matter, that make a difference and that allow us to become significant. Find the courage to do the hard things that matter, that make a difference in the world and you will become significant.
Q: What would you say are your main literary influences?
As much as I love to write—and I do love to write—I love to read more. I make an effort to read a variety of genres and authors, from classics to contemporary fiction, and all kinds of non-fiction. I guess everyone has his or her own approach, but I recently read a blog from an author who said she’d been working on her book for seven years and hadn’t read a single page of anyone else’s book in that time. I’m absolutely certain I’m not good enough to write well without reading inspiring prose.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you have faced with self-publishing?
The great thing about self-publishing in 2012 is how easy it is. With just a bit of work, you can publish a book with absolutely no cost on Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform. A few bucks with help from people I found at odesk.com got the book into even better shape, including a version for publication on the Create Space, which makes a print version of my book available immediately on virtually every on-line bookstore, including some international ones. It is a great day to be an author—I feel sorry for publishers!
Q: What surprised you about the self-publishing process?
Right now there is a stigma attached to self-published authors, that just because you can pay for the book to be published doesn’t mean you are a qualified author. Do you think self-publishing will ever become a respected industry?
If the recent bankruptcy of Houghon-Mifflin doesn’t convince you that the publishing world has now completely changed, let me point out that Mark Cuban recently self-published his book, opting to avoid the artificial constraints, limitations and unfair division of profits inherent in the current publishing model. Mark Cuban could have had almost any publisher he wanted. Other well-known and well-respected people who have written great books have opted to self-publish their books. In other words, I think we’re there. The tables have turned and people are starting to ask, “Why did you need a publisher to help you get your book out when you could have done it all by yourself?” The truth is, publishers have never sold books—authors always did and now we don’t have to share the profits!
Q: What is your advice to authors who decide to self-publish?
Don’t ever apologize for self-publishing your work. Ever.