Doug Lynam was a monk. Now, he’s a financial advisor.
And he just wrote a book full of all the lessons he’s learned along the way.
Lynam wrote “From Monk to Money Manager” as a mass-appeal book intended for adults of all ages, religions and political persuasions. Who he really wrote it for is himself, though, he told ThinkAdvisor. The book touches on how to reduce debt, build wealth and invest sustainably, as well as dedicated chapters on taxes, insurance and estate planning.
“I wrote it for myself, my younger self in my 20s. It’s everything I wish I would have known — if I could throw that book into a wayback machine,” Lynam said.
Lynam grew up in what he calls “a pretty wealthy family” in an affluent suburb of Chicago.
“Money was abundant, but it was weaponized. So I tried to run away from the materialistic world and ran away to a monastery in an act of rebellion to annoy my parents,” he said. “And then of course that didn’t work out so well because the monastery went bankrupt. Neither extreme was very healthy.”
Lynam entered a Benedictine monastery in Santa Fe when he was 22, right out of college. The style of the monastery’s religious order was a commitment to being self-sufficient.
While a monk, Lynam worked as a math and science teacher at a private 7th- through 12th-grade school. Despite all the monks working full time, the monastery still didn’t have enough money to pay the bills.
Eventually, Lynam insisted on taking over the monastery’s household finances and discovered the community had been, as he writes in the book, “running in the red for years.” Personal bankruptcy for each monk in the community was the only solution — Lynam helped them file.
After the bankruptcy, Lynam decided to learn everything he could about financial planning and money management to make sure that he didn’t repeat either mistake — the excess of his family or the problems of the monastery.
“Then something curious happened: I noticed that the monastery guests who would come who were in spiritual pain — they were asking for prayers and help — they were actually really in financial pain,” he said. “They asked me to pray for them, and I would, but also I insisted we make a budget. Because God’s not going to work a miracle solving a problem that you have the power to fix.”
For many years then, Lynam worked pro bono as a financial advisor. He found himself helping with a range of issues from “more bankruptcies to probating estates to credit card fraud to child support payments to you name it.”
That was his training ground to becoming the financial advisor he is today.
After 20 years as a Benedictine monk, Lynam left the monastery in 2016 to become a full-time financial advisor. As he writes in the book, he realized that “the most powerful way for me to have an impact in the world was to leave the monastery and advise people about their finances full time.”
Launching the business formally took at least five years, Lynam explained.