I once learned in one of my undergrad classes that the three leading causes for divorce are sex, kids, and MONEY. While I can’t verify this statistic now, I do think it has truth. Those tend to be the hardest things for couples to agree on and also tend to be the most detrimental topics to disagree on. I’m no money expert, but I do have some tips to helping with money in your marriage.
- Say no to debt. Matt and I once attended a Dave Ramsey conference. He is really a wise man, especially when it comes to money, and I highly suggest you check him out. He has many tips to getting debt free but one thing he says is that cars and houses are the only thing you should ever go into debt for (though he really isn’t fond of car debt or long mortgages). What does this look like? Well, saying no to debt equals saying no to credit cards, at least when it comes to spending money you don’t have with them.
Credit card companies still exist for a reason. They love your money and they take a lot of it. While these cards can be helpful in building up your credit and in times of emergencies, they should rarely be used for any other reason. And if it’s not for emergencies, you should have money in the bank to support what you are buying with them.
Besides our newly acquired car (which is in fast motion to being paid off!), we are debt free and I can’t tell you the blessing that it is! There are so many times when we (or more often I) am tempted to just throw a few things on a card in order to get or to do something we want, but it’s not worth it. Save up, no matter what it’s for and experience the joy you receive from buying things in cash. I can’t tell you the freedom that it brings!
Proverbs 22:7- The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender. Romans 13:8- Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
- Give! One of my favorite stories in the Bible comes from Mark 12:41-44. It is only 4 verses, but it tells a powerful story:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Wouldn’t you just love to meet that woman? I would love to hear her response to “why?” I can only imagine her answer would be “Why not? It isn’t mine.”
Matthew 6:19-24 discusses not storing up treasures in heaven. It says that we cannot serve both God and money. Giving is the answer to this problem. By giving we are saying, “It’s Yours, Lord. Take it.” And trusting that He will do great things. And giving does not mean only giving 10% to your church. In fact, our pastor preached a sermon not long ago telling us to pray and give where the Lord is leading, even if it is not to our church. Bold statement, right? But there are so many people and organizations that need your help. Pray and seek where the Lord is leading you. Invest in something that truly matters.
While I do not think we should give to receive, I think you will find some crazy blessings coming your way when you do. We have found that in the most pressing financial times, God has always come through while we are still giving from what we have. It is awesome to see Him work in such tangible ways in our lives.
- Save. This is one we are really trying to figure out right now. And honestly, I don’t have many answers. We have so much going on with looking to buy a house in a few months, paying off the car, and doing everything possible to go on a nice vacation for our 5-year anniversary. But in the midst of it all, saving is still important. We could easily drain it for a nice vacation, but where would that leave us when house issues arise? Or when baby Baxter decides to make his/her way into the world (Let me be clear that there is no conceived baby B up to the writing of this post)? Or when my 7-year-old car needs its next repair? And none of those are including our future or any severe emergencies. No, saving cannot be put off no matter what the circumstances.
So what does this look like? Well, it will be different for everyone, but save something every month… every week if you can! We decided to take a look at what we are spending and noticed that our weekly eating out could be scaled back a good deal. We made a budget for that area and are hoping to save a few hundred dollars a month from that alone! It’s possible; find a way!
- Live off of one income. Ooo… I see you squirming reading this one! Scary, huh? When I first heard it I thought so too. It was actually advice that my in-laws gave us before we got married and we’ve been doing it for the majority of our marriage. This does not mean that you cannot both work, but use the primary breadwinners salary for absolute costs (Food, shelter, clothing, etc.) but use the other spouse’s income for saving, for vacations, for wants (rather than needs) like furniture, and things of that nature. Why? Well, for starters, it helps with our tendency toward greed, un-necessary purchases, and from working too much. Secondly, it helps in times when the baby comes and mommy wants to stay home, or when one loses their job.
Personally, this has been huge for us. When I decided to go to grad school, we were able to make it through 2 years of private education with no loans. We lived solely off of Matt’s income while I worked and paid off every dime of that looonnng and tiring education. God was so good in that I lost my job, due to the family I worked for moving, the last week I needed the money to pay for my last bill for school. Since than I have been doing odds and ends while figuring out where the Lord wants me and while starting a new business (wedding consulting or relationship coaching, anyone?). Not having a steady income from me has it’s downsides, like struggling to pay for a nice vacation, but God has blessed us beyond belief and we have been comfortable living off of what He has given us through Matt. It may be hard but I encourage you to work towards it! It will be worth it!
Hebrews 13:5- Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
- Communicate. I can’t tell you how important it is to communicate with your spouse when it comes to money. Know what the other is expecting, talk about how much you are spending, set a budget and work together on what it looks like to be good stewards. TALK, TALK, TALK ABOUT IT! I can’t stress that enough. I’ve recently talked to several couples that are struggling in this very area (all are newly weds) and it is the hardest concept for them to grasp together and to figure out. When we marry it goes from MY money to OUR money, but even more than that it should be HIS (God’s) money. Do not make this an opportunity to fight, but an opportunity to connect, to learn more about your spouse, and grow in your relationship and trust with the Lord together. Make a plan and follow it and I promise you will find a better financial state, a better marriage, and a better love for our God. Know that the Lord will provide and lean on Him and on one another as you walk in that faith.
Matthew 6:31-33- Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.