You already know all about the Goals Summit that the Abe’s Walleters enjoy (and heartily encourage)… Of COURSE we take the time to review our family’s P+L statement, right? I mean, what are we running, a funhouse? NO! We’re running a business… (and I’ve got it on good authority that we’ll actually be presenting an accounting of that biz at some point.)

So yes, we do look at a year-log financial summary, but of course it’s not complete for the calendar year. Once those numbers are available, during our weekly meeting, my wife and I review that. That just happened (she builds me a terrific report that includes how our numbers compared to our goals, and how they compared to last year’s hard numbers. It’s so exciting!) and I thought it might be helpful to talk through what I saw. So here it is:


  • Our income fell off a bit last year, but my awesome wife regained about 80% of that moolah by going through all our books, expenses–even comparison shopped our wifi–with a fine toothed comb, and cutting costs. Amazing. It was like a LoDoFeb year! Man are we going to come out in the black in the long run for that!
  • Our total gifts given, including tax deductible charity like our church (watch for an upcoming post on where we give and why for an exhaustive list) AND all the non-tax deductible places we give, went down. Normally this would be a huge bummer, but this year I was encouraged by this number going down! Why? Because our PERCENTAGE of giving vs income held strong in spite of the aforementioned fact that our income dropped last year. That’s how we do giving goals anyway, on percentages instead of hard numbers. So yay team!
  • As it was kind of a belt-tightening year, we had lots of categories fall in total spending: Travel/vaca, Clothing, Eating out, Personal Care, Auto costs (including insurance), Utilities (I don’t know how these went down, but they did. I suppose it was a milder winter…), Health/fitness (my wife is being healed of back issues, so less therapy needed there!), Home improvement, and Recreation. A+!


  • We nailed our monthly goals for clothing, groceries, and clothing maintenance (tailor + dry cleaning).
  • I like where we are on mortgage, insurance premiums, household help (includes monthly-ish house cleaning service and babysitting), and investments


  • Interestingly, one of the most concerning things I saw in our review was the need to increase spending in a few key places. Remember: we’re not out to save as much, and spend as little, as possible. We’re out to steward God’s money to build assets and invest in capitals. That’s why trading money for physical health, for instance, is a no-brainer. So those areas are:
  • Spiritual Development (which means any spiritually-oriented books, training, conferences, or travel to be with people who build into us spiritually). Luckily for us, two men who are significant mentors in my life live in San Diego. You might want to travel to Hawaii to find some mentors of your own… just an idea. THIS MATTERS TO ME, by the way. I WANT us to spend money to enrich and enhance our lives spiritually. Heck, just going to a worship conference would be a fun thrill for everybody in my family… is that not worth your money? (It’s more important than Christmas presents, that’s for dang sure. If you even START to comment that you could NEVER AFFORD such an expense, please attach your cable bill, internet bill, smartphone bill, and Christmas gift expenses. Just saying.)  SPEND ON THIS.
  • Home improvement was too low. For now, it’s our only piece of land that we have to manage. And there’s a big, mostly unused (and unusable) basement, and an unusable backyard, AND NO BASKETBALL COURT. We need to steward this property by making the most of it, so we’ll put money toward this to:
    1. Finish the awesome tree house I’m building for the kiddos (and secretly it’s going to be an office/writing space for me)
    2. Basketball central
    3. Make the grassless, swampy backyard usable
    4. Make the basement pull its weight by being either an office space or an apartment (that my parents could move into some day). We’ve had a single woman and a young couple live with us in the past year and, while having them in the guest room was fine, giving people their own self-containted space in the basement (think: full bath, kitchenette, exterior entrance) would be better all the way around. Those visits could be extended even longer and drop everybody’s stress level. Win city! Thanks, Property God Entrusts To Me!
  • I want our vacation expenses to increase this year. We have opportunities to visit many wonderful friends and family, take learning trips (like going to Israel), and do mission trips (we are probably going to do relief work in Houston as a family this summer, but have other opportunities too) too. We’ve also got regular vaca scheduled over spring break and late summer (and there’s always the summits to consider!), so we can hit a larger number. I’M CERTAINLY WILLING TO TRY.

So that’s what I learned by going over the books for 2017! It was a great year and I’m sure the one we’re coming into is going to be even better! Do you think I’ve acted on the above at all yet? You bet I have:

  • Justin Wolfenberg has come out and started a quote to put a bathroom in the basement.
  • I had a landscape architect come look at the backyard to start building an estimate.
  • God has already brought us work for our business and it already looks like we’ll have a better year in 2018. Thanks for answering our specific prayers Father!
  • My wife and I have started talking about where our vacation dough will go (as well as our LoDoFeb pile of cash), and how to get that Spiritual Development number up… see why we need a weekly meeting?

So, LORD, if it be Your will… get me back to San Diego!