When to Spend

Matt C. White

Matt Christopher White is a CPA and CFP® who writes about money and apprenticeship to Jesus. He's the author of "How to Love Money: Four Paradoxes that Breathe Life into Your Finances." Matt is equally comfortable talking about Luke 6:43, Section 643 of the Internal Revenue Code and the 6-4-3 double play. There’s no place he’d rather be than with Sarah and their two girls, Lydia and Eliza, at their home in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

When to Spend

Matt C. White  |  Apr 5, 2023

IF YOU HAVE READ enough HumbleDollar articles, you’ve probably noticed that frugality has played a major role in the financial success of many of the site’s writers. Peruse the article comments and the site’s “Voices” section, and you’ll find that readers often share the same thriftiness. Frugality is also a key theme running through many of the 30 financial life stories in the forthcoming book, My Money Journey. Sure enough,

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Going Our Own Way

Matt C. White  |  Dec 22, 2022

HOW WE THINK ABOUT money affects almost every aspect of our lives. All the landmark decisions we make have a thread of money influence running through them. I’m talking about college, career, marriage, kids, the people and places we associate with—even how we spend our time. If we don’t make these decisions intentionally, we’ll drift downstream, carried by the current of the most popular money management ideas.
That brings me to a study recently published by the Journal of Retirement and entitled,

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Wiser in 21 Ways

Matt C. White  |  Nov 9, 2022

WHEN I MET ARON FOR dinner, the occasion marked a milestone for both of us. Aron had earned his bachelor’s degree in audio production in 2020—during the thick of the pandemic—and finding his place in the industry had been more difficult than he’d hoped.
Now that things were finally falling into place, Aron approached me for help with his finances. In particular, he wanted to understand his tax situation, which had grown into a mixture of self-employed contract work and part-time employment.

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A Home Run

Matt C. White  |  Sep 12, 2022

MY WIFE SARAH AND I recently dusted off our old Scrabble board. We reviewed the rules and were reminded of the Scrabble Bingo—the 50-point bonus awarded to a player who figures out how to play every letter tile from the tray on a single turn.
Neither of us could remember ever achieving the Scrabble Bingo. That wasn’t surprising, we reasoned, because it’s rare for all the stars to align. You’d need the right combination of seven letters,

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Read That Statement

Matt C. White  |  Jul 21, 2022

HAVE YOU HEARD that you shouldn’t check your 401(k) at times like this? Market volatility can wreak havoc not only with our account balances, but also with our decision-making. Ignoring our 401(k) statements might help us stick with our long-term investment plan.
True as that may be, there’s a good reason to peek at your second-quarter statement: to see if you can find a new feature—the lifetime income illustration. It was mandated by Congress as part of the 2019 SECURE Act,

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No Help

Matt C. White  |  Jul 4, 2022

OUR LAST SUMMER road trip didn’t exactly go as planned. That ordeal changed my mind about an annual expense I’d been paying without much thought. I gained a new perspective—even if I did learn my lesson the hard way.
On a Saturday morning last summer, Sarah and I woke our kids at 4 a.m. for a predawn drive through the mountains of East Tennessee and across the Carolinas. We were on our way to enjoy the beaches of Hilton Head Island,

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Insuring Infirmity

Matt C. White  |  Jun 20, 2022

LONG-TERM-CARE insurance and disability insurance can both be part of a comprehensive financial plan. But is it a good idea to have both coverages at the same time, or could one substitute for the other? After all, both policies are designed to help those who are, in some way, infirm.
To answer this question, let’s start with another one: What’s the purpose of insurance? The best use of any type of insurance is to guard against financial disaster.

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No Guarantees

Matt C. White  |  Jun 2, 2022

TARGET-DATE FUNDS are riding a wave of popularity. Morningstar reports that investors placed $170 billion into these funds in 2021, more than double their 2020 inflow. Morningstar also reports that, as of 2019, 58% of all 401(k) participants were invested in a target-date fund. That percentage is likely higher today.
It’s clear why the funds have become so popular. They can be an excellent solution for retirement savers who prefer a hands-off approach. To this end,

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Perspective Needed

Matt C. White  |  Apr 26, 2022

THE HIGHEST expression of complexity is thoughtful simplicity. It’s like standing on a mountaintop after navigating the ascent.
The work of the mountain’s trailblazer is arduous. He or she must focus intently on the task at hand, glancing left and right, guessing what will come around each new bend. But from the pinnacle looking down, the perspective puts the most efficient path in clear view. It becomes possible to make a map to aid those who will come next.

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Time to Settle Up

Matt C. White  |  Apr 12, 2022

TAX DAY IS ALMOST here, and I have a feeling that some of you may be less than excited. The cash that changes hands every year around this time gets a lot of attention, but it tells an incomplete story. The size of the check you write—or the refund you’re receiving—doesn’t, by itself, say much of anything about your tax situation.

Back in the days before technology made transferring money so convenient, did you ever let a tab run both ways with a friend?

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It’s Up to You

Matt C. White  |  Apr 8, 2022

EVERY LEGITIMATE short list of history’s greatest basketball coaches includes Pat Summitt and John Wooden. I’m not even going to attempt to recount their myriad successes. Instead, I want to discuss why they were successful.

Many of the best to ever play basketball went to the University of Tennessee and to the University of California, Los Angeles, to work with these legendary coaches. When players like Candace Parker and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor) stepped onto the floor,

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Set Up to Succeed

Matt C. White  |  Feb 25, 2022

LOOKING TO IMPROVE your physical and financial health? You might have heard similar sounding advice: All you have to do is burn more calories than you consume—and to spend less than you make.

While there’s an element of truth to both platitudes, I don’t find either helpful. There’s a psychological canyon between such abstract ideas and putting them into practice.
One thing experience has taught me: If I’m authentically stirred to want to do something,

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22 Tax Season Tips

Matt C. White  |  Feb 23, 2022

WILL YOU BE WORKING with a CPA to file your tax return? For eight years, I was one of the folks on the other side of this annual ordeal. Want to make life easier both for yourself and for us green-shade types? Here are 22 insights:

1. Time is money. CPAs sell expertise by the hour. They track everything they do, all day long, in six-minute increments—or perhaps 15. For the business to survive,

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Collecting Taxes

Matt C. White  |  Feb 4, 2022

WHEN A FRIEND TOLD me about his newfound interest in buying and selling sports trading cards, it reminded me of the joy that collecting brought me in my childhood. And when he asked me to explain the relevant taxation, it got me thinking: The core of the tax code is more logical than we give it credit for. It’s the ever-changing details that make it squirrelly.
If you buy and sell collectibles—whether it be sports cards,

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Christmas All Year

Matt C. White  |  Dec 24, 2021

I GAVE THE BEST PEP talk I could muster, but it didn’t help. Our family of four entered Walmart in solidarity, planning to buy gifts to fill an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. Two of us left early in disarray.

I had to wrestle my screaming two-year-old all the way to the car because she knew only one way to approach the toy department—with herself in mind. Eliza melted down over her refusal to part with a cheap plastic toy.

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