Posts tagged Finances
One issue that consistently plagues marriage is finances, especially debt. Out of marriages that end within the first seven years, ninety percent said it was due to financial problems. We are a culture consumed with things. We love to buy, attain, own, and collect stuff. Our love for things coupled with the ease and availability of attaining credit is a recipe for problems. Throw marriage in the mix and things get even more difficult, due to the fact that partners often disagree on how finances should be handled.
It seems as though we struggle with the ability to delay gratification, I know I do. We want what we want, when we want it. It is a common trend among young newlyweds to assume that with marriage comes a higher standard of living, if only that were true. As Larry Burkett once said, “We spend the first 5-7 years of our marriages trying to attain the same standard of living as our parents.” It must be remembered that it took our parents 30 years to reach their current standard of living. It is so easy to get impatient and ring up exorbitant amounts of consumer debt.
Currently, about 78% of Americans own credit cards and the average credit card debt per household is over$9,300. Sure, things are nice, but the debt that comes with buying things, we obviously can’t afford, is stifling. Debt has the tendency to suck the fun and joy out of our relationships, and leave us feeling deflated. The ironic thing is, usually by the time we pay off what we have purchased on credit, it is near being obsolete. Thus, we must go buy the new model, on credit.
Debt shackles us. As Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower becomes a slave to the lender.” Owing money, and dealing with that unnecessary, added, financial pressure keeps a married couple constantly fretting over money instead of dreaming, laughing, and enjoying their marriage. Debt keeps couples from giving like they want to give. It keeps them from serving God like they want to serve. It keeps the future looking hazy and makes goals difficult to achieve. Marriage is difficult enough. There are many unexpected challenges that arise. When couples add debt to their marriage, it is simply an unnecessary evil that adds problems.
Couple’s obviously need to discuss their financial issues, but more than that, they need to have a plan and be on the same page. A house divided on how to handle money will not stand. Every couple should have some form of a budget. There must be a plan and each party must agree to abide by the plan. Each needs to know where things stand financially so that one partner does not slide into a parental role. When one is aware of the finances and the other is not, resentment can often build when one tells the other, “We can’t afford that” or “We don’t have the money for that.” Financial goals need to be set together and progress tracked.
Being married and owing no one is such a feeling of freedom. In debt? Make a plan. Draw up a budget. Set goals. Make sure everyone is on the same team working toward a common goal. If you are currently financially free, then enjoy the blessings that come with that! Enjoy the freedom to dream, give, serve, and have some fun too.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
I have never been financially illiterate. My parent’s raised me with enough horse sense (why are horses the equine’s that get lumped with all the good sense?) to know better than to rack up large amounts of consumer debt on credit cards. What I didn’t know until a couple of years ago was really how to manage my finances. My financial plan went something like this. “This item cost x amount. I have x amount in my checking account. I can buy this. This item cost x amount. I do not have x amount in my checking. I cannot buy this.” This works for keeping you out of debt. The problem is I didn’t do much planning.
Then I was acquainted with Dave Ramsey. A very intelligent, although very blunt, gentleman that I feel like tells me things I should have already known but lacked the discipline, intestinal fortitude, or insight to implement. He has a habit of calling people jerks or morons, which I personally find inspiring because sometimes I am a jerk and a moron and would be thankful to have someone tell me that I am being such when I choose to be one. Anyways, Dave prompted me to start a budget. I started setting financial goals. Save this much. Pay off this loan. Give this amount. Treat myself to this. Spend this much eating food that other people cook. A revolutionary concept? Not so much. Did it revolutionize my finances? Incredibly. Instead of asking, “Do I have the money for this?” I began asking, “If I buy this, how will it effect my financial goals?”
At the beginning of every month my spouse and I would have a board meeting. Sounds all smancy huh? Like I am running some fortune 500 company. The board meetings consisted of me, Devon, and a foot long 2×4 that I wrote “the board” on (I have no idea why I do silly things like this but you can’t have a board meeting without a board and two people aren’t enough to make up a board). At these “board meetings” we would create a budget for the month in an excel spreadsheet. Every dollar got a job. We would agree to live by these terms. If one of us broke the agreement, they got beat by the board (this was “the board’s” practical side).
A good friend of mine has made this statement for years and grafted this saying to my brain, “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” Good luck getting where you want to be financially without a budget. I have learned that a budget I keep track of in my head doesn’t cut the mustard (or anything else for that matter). It has to be an actual budget that I write down and give every cent I earn a job to do.
When you see your spending on paper, you will think twice about spending it. Suddenly that new TV, ipad, movie, cheeseburger, ______(fill in the blank) isn’t as important. When you see yourself achieving goals you have set you will find that you become more motivated to work harder. Now I am not saying you shouldn’t have a 72″ TV, ipad 3, or that new living room furniture you have been wanting. I am saying, budget so you can achieve these goals guilt free and accomplish the financial goals and dreams you would like to see come to fruition.
When your finances are in order you can breathe a little easier. You can enjoy the toys you get to treat yourself too. You can relax a little more about the future. You will see decreased tension in your marriage. All of that from a budget? Yup. Try it and see.
Tell us about it: What have you learned financially that you would like to pass on to the rest of humanity?