Lutherans in the Twin Cities

How to use God’s gifts wisely

Nathan Dungan shares a three-step formula: share, save, spend.

According to Nathan Dungan, president and founder of the Minneapolis firm Share Save Spend™, most people aren’t very good at talking about money. He says, “We seldom ask children to share.” That, of course, has implications for the future of the church.

When families do talk about money, it’s usually related to a spending issue. “What families need,” Dungan says, “is a way to talk about money.” To do that, he has developed a “Financial Sanity Pack.”

Dungan wants to provide a system that gets families talking about money, in a Christian context. “If you don’t have a system for talking about money, you default to the cultural standard,” he says.

Share Save Spend™’s founder served, in a previous life, first as a financial advisor and then as vice president of marketing, with Lutheran Brotherhood and its successor firm, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. In his new role, he says he seeks to help people develop healthy financial habits in three ways:

* He speaks to organizations both nationally and locally on money, values and culture.

* He consults with organizations, both faith-based groups and corporations whose leaders see a need for educating their employees, individuals whose effectiveness is often hindered by “money issue baggage” they bring to work with them.

* He consults with high-net-worth families on intergenerational issues relating to their wealth.
Some of Dungan’s presentations are at churches. Among area congregations where he has spoken recently are St. Andrew Lutheran in Mahtomedi, Family of Christ Lutheran in Chanhassen, Mount Calvary Lutheran in Excelsior, Hosanna Lutheran in Lakeville and Mt. Olivet Lutheran in Minneapolis.

Dungan believes a key to teaching children is “experiential philanthropy.” It’s a process that helps children see how their giving benefits the recipients. He says all expenditures are reflections of the person’s values. Parents all around the country tell him they are concerned about habits relating to money.

Dungan’s “financial san-ity pack” is designed to help youth and adults link their values with their present and future financial choices. There are participant guides for youth and adult use in a “Financial Sanity Seminar.” The pack also includes:

* 101 discussion-starter cards for use at home, in the car or on a trip;

* credit card/debit card/gift card holders with reminders to live within one’s means; and

* a “Heart2Heart” journal for grandparents and grandchildren to help them record activities they do together.
The introductory page of the participant guide says, “The goal of this learning experience is to help you understand the relationship of money, values and habits in today’s hyper-consumer culture. Achieving and maintaining financial sanity is not easy. Our hope is that by reflecting on and discussing this topic with a group of your peers, you will discover the benefits of living and modeling a Share Save Spend™ life.”

Churches can help families in that respect by organizing discussions with adults and children from a values-based platform.

Addressing the “share” portion of the Share Save Spend™ plan should em-phasize giving in gratitude which can take the focus off self. Share Save Spend™ even has a three-compartment bank that can help a young recipient divide his/her resources into three categories.
Dungan’s four-year-old firm has as its mission “to help youth and adults achieve financial sanity by developing and maintaining healthy financial habits.” That there’s a need for “financial sanity” in current American culture is evidenced by the fledgling firm’s growth. Dungan hired his first employee during the past year and plans to add as many as three more in the coming twelve months.

Nathan Dungan says he was nurtured in his philosophy concerning the proper use of money in his childhood. The St. Olaf College graduate says his parents were ahead of their time in discussing finances with their children. His father is a retired Lutheran pastor. His mother was a trailblazer of sorts — she was one of the early female representatives/ agents for Lutheran Broth-erhood.

Share Save Spend™ traces its roots to a program Dungan was asked to develop back in 1990 for Lutheran Brotherhood. The theme was Finances and Values. Today’s business is really a continuation of that idea.

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For more information about “financial sanity,” visit www. sharesavespend.com or call 612-341-9996 or 612-384-6650.