For many people, the biggest obstacle to becoming a successful investor is the belief that investing is too difficult for them to handle. Because that misconception is so prevalent, SMI devotes a lot of coverage to the complexity-busting power of establishing a personal investing plan and sticking with it regardless of what's happening in the markets.

With all the emphasis on planning, it's easy to start thinking that investing success or failure depends solely on you. What a relief that isn't the case! Surely God expects each of us to faithfully do the best we can, but ultimately, He has promised to provide for every need, whether or not we pick all the right mutual funds along the way (Matthew 6:25-33).

Still, the pitfall of faulty perspective remains a danger for any investor who is focusing years into the future. Imbalance often results when an investing plan is being applied too rigidly, and these two areas seem especially vulnerable:

• Keeping a generous spirit. Despite the many reassurances given to us in scripture that we come out ahead by being generous (Proverbs 11:24-25, Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 9:6), the idea is so counter-intuitive that it remains a battle for many people. If meeting our saving and investing goals is a struggle to begin with, it sure seems strange to consider giving more money away. Yet that often seems to be how God works, perhaps as a gentle reminder that "my ways are higher than your ways" (Isaiah 55:9) and that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight" (1 Corinthians 3:19).

• Focusing on what really matters. As Scott Houser pointed out in this family vacation article, sometimes it does make sense to temporarily bust the budget or borrow from the emergency fund. Naturally it would be even better to incorporate these relationship-building activities into the budget, but the point remains valid—accomplishing financial goals isn't worth it if you look back after their completion and have deep regrets. Although the ad is blatantly manipulative, I feel it right in the heart every time the radio implores me with a little girl voice to "Take me fishing, because my wedding day will be sooner than you think." Ouch. I don't fish, but I get the point. My retirement will probably still be okay even if our family spends some money building loving memories.