When you hear “wealth,” your first thoughts may be lakeside estates, fancy cars and designer handbags. But wealth goes beyond having a lot of money—rather, it’s more about what money can do for you.
To some, wealth means being able to purchase necessities without checking the bank account, or the ability to prioritize time with family and friends. Others may view wealth as a fully stamped passport, or a savings account large enough to pay for their grandkids’ college education. For Thrivent client Dr. Artika Tyner, wealth equals a responsibility and an opportunity to give back to the community.
Wealth is about more than money
Artika is no stranger to overcoming adversity. Before she became an author and a civil rights attorney and law professor, the 41-year-old from St. Paul, Minnesota, says she was only a step away from being in poverty, a reality of the conditions of the community she came from.
Artika’s upbringing laid the foundation for the work she does today—not only as a lawyer and educator but as a social change agent for racial and economic justice. She helps people of all ages connect with their gifts and develop tangible tools for bringing forth sustainable, durable change in the family, workplace, community or school. Wealth is one of the resources Artika uses to help bring that change to fruition.
“It doesn’t have to be a fleeting moment, but we can change our communities,” says Artika. “We can come together, and we can reclaim wealth—the type that helps to build communities with information and knowledge. We can use our resources, which includes money, to help uplift, empower and shape the future.”
Artika is—literally—putting her money where her mouth is: In addition to the dozens of children’s books she’s written to promote literacy, cultural awareness and leadership development, she also founded Planting People Growing Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to creating new pathways to success for all children and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.
“Oftentimes in church, the focus is just on charity, that I gave someone something. I know I’m supposed to do that,” she says. “But how do I help to share information and knowledge, where someone doesn’t need my resources the next time around? I’m honored to be a part of the Thrivent community, where we can come together, share information and knowledge, empower ourselves and share the gifts that we create together.”
We can come together, and we can reclaim wealth—the type that helps to build communities with information and knowledge. We can use our resources, which includes money, to help uplift, empower and shape the future.
Create your own definition of wealth
In order to create your own definition of wealth—one that goes beyond what money can buy you—you need to look at money through the lens of your values and purpose.
“Finances have made my purpose come alive by helping me move from a scarcity model,” says Artika. “Oftentimes, I lived in a reality where there wasn’t enough. Now, I can align finances with faith. There’s an abundance in what I can build for myself and what, through partnership and the power of community, we can build together.”
Artika needed to reframe her relationship with money to help her achieve her purpose, which she did with the support from her financial advisor. “Thrivent has helped me to learn, grow and lead,” she says. “Learn the basics of my financial planning, grow in my confidence to be able to build wealth and have a greater impact, and lead to make a difference and make some of my dreams come true.”
If you feel your preconceived notions of wealth are holding you back, here’s how you can start to shift your perspective:
- Think about how you view wealth currently. Does wealth equate to material items or a large bank account? Do you feel negative or positive emotions around wealth? Jot down anything that comes to mind when you think about wealth.
- Explore what is truly important to you. Values are principles that guide your actions and behaviors. Understanding your values can help you make sense of some choices you make in life and can put intention around your money decisions.
- Look where you’re at now. Without judgment, examine where your finances stand in regard to savings, debt and spending. That will uncover where change needs to happen and help guide your goal setting.
- Talk about wealth and money. Money is often seen as a taboo subject that shouldn’t be discussed. But by thinking about wealth beyond money, you can start to desensitize the topic and, in turn, make it easier to talk about.
“I learned from working with Thrivent that it’s OK to talk about money. It’s an invitation,” says Artika. “Oftentimes we think, ‘Don’t talk about it because you don’t have enough,’ or, ‘Don’t talk about it because you have too much, and you don’t want others to know.’ But what Thrivent has taught me is that we don’t have to keep secrets about money. Instead of thinking about money as a thing, look at it as a verb—what can we create and build together? How can we take action with money? Now I don’t have to be fearful [of money]. Now I can walk in faith and say, ‘I created the type of community that will catch me when I fall, because we built it with each other.’”
Get support to shift your money mindset
Artika credits her financial advisor with giving her the tools and confidence to achieve her wealth-building goals.
“Oftentimes, we hear what we cannot do—that we can’t achieve our financial goals, we can't create a legacy, we can’t go beyond the situation that we’re in,” she says. “My financial advisor said, ‘We can, and we can together. We can make an impact; we can create wealth; we can serve in the community.’ Those ‘cans’ have helped me to realize I can make a difference in a meaningful way, and now I have the tools to do that.”
In addition to fostering a sense of confidence with your money and spending decisions, financial advisors can help you:
- Create a plan. Whether you want to retire early and travel, change careers, purchase life insurance to protect your loved ones or set up a charitable plan, a financial advisor has the tools and resources to help you achieve your goals.
- Align your finances with your values and purpose. Financial advisors can help you identify your top values—such as security, family, space, ethics, relationships—and work them into your financial planning.
- Keep you on track. Through regular check-ins, your financial advisor can hold you accountable to meeting your goals.
- Shift your money mindset. A financial advisor can encourage you to challenge your preconceived notions of wealth and build your literacy around financial complexities.
“Having the support of my financial advisor in addressing some of the obstacles in life has given me a sense of endurance and perseverance. It gave me a sense that I don't have to respond to the obstacles in life; I can be prepared for them, I can learn how to pivot,” Artika says. “My relationship with Thrivent, personally, has meant that all things are possible. Where I come from, I didn't think of a possibility beyond day by day, moment by moment. Thrivent, to a certain extent, helped to liberate me by giving me the tools and the financial literacy to have a greater impact on the issues that I’m passionate about, and now it’s my responsibility to share them with others.”
Real clients. Real stories.
Tips for choosing a financial advisor
Financial advisors are not one-size-fits-all, and it can take time and careful consideration before you commit to working with someone. These tips can get you started.
- Discuss your financial needs. Whether you’re expecting a child, planning to buy a new home, thinking about retirement or developing your legacy plan, a financial advisor can help you develop more clarity and confidence with your finances at every life stage.
- Ask questions. Interview potential financial advisors just as you would a contractor for your home or your child’s daycare. Ask questions like: How do you assess if my financial plan is on track? How do you typically work with clients? Which lessons learned in your career have shifted your perspective or changed how you advise clients? Their responses will help you determine if the financial advisor is a good fit for your needs.
- Research the company. The strength and stability of a financial organization are just as important as the financial planning services and generosity programs it offers. Do your research on the company’s history and ratings. Additionally, what benefits does the company offer that interest you? At Thrivent, for example, some perks of being a client include
Thrivent Choice®—a program that allows you to contribute to organizations and causes you care about—and Thrivent Action Teams, which provide you with resources and seed money to fund community events and activities.
“For me, my financial advisor helped to ask me the questions about what made my heart sing, and then started to educate me on products and services,” says Artika. “I got an invitation to have the tools to be able to talk freely about money and about my goals. Once I met my Thrivent advisor, I felt seen and heard.”