(Image courtesy of funcheaporfree.com)
No, I’m not leaving the blogosphere. Rather, I used that title for this entry in hopes of grabbing your attention about an issue many, many people don’t like to talk about, family finances. Living this life as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ has brought us many blessings. If I were to make a list of them (you know how I love to do that!), the financial freedom Betsy and I have experienced would be toward the very top.
Please understand that this has been a process, as there has been no supernatural deposits into our checking account of the years. As God has grown our faith, we have, together, come to a much clearer understanding of how to use our finances for His glory.
With regard to the process I mentioned, we undertook the task of paying down our debt some 5 years ago. The inspiration for this entry came yesterday, as we mailed in the payment that eliminated all of our credit card debt.
Re-arranging our financial priorities has not always been easy. Many simple home-cooked meals have replaced the dining out we both so enjoy. The vehicles we drive are functional, not flashy. We’ve also discovered that a few relaxing hours fishing on the local river satisfies for us the wanting to get away on some expensive vacation.
To be clear, I find nothing wrong with nice cars or enjoyable getaways. My point is that as we discover more of the depth of joy in living simply to honor God in all things, the contentment He then gives us moves these other things way down the priority list.
As I said, this process has not always been easy, but the approach to it is quite simple. Household finances, like any other area in family life, are best served when there is frequent and honest discussions about them. When we keep each other aware of our thoughts/concerns/questions about the budget, potential bumps on the road are avoided or drastically reduced because we have been open with each other regarding money.
I have found through my discussions and counsel with couples that the single greatest hurdle to financial contentment in the home is the idea of having ‘my money’ v. ‘her money’ or ‘my’ v. his.’ This set-up, by its very nature, is a fertile breeding ground for anxiety and resentment. The goal of the common good is often swept away as one partner feels overly burdened by bills, resenting the lack of help toward paying them from the partner.
From the outset of our life as followers of the Lord Jesus, Betsy and I have maintained that the income brought in is to be pooled, not kept separate. Through the years, we have been blessed by this simple system. By taking on the challenge of our finances as a couple, we have been able to teach each other lessons along the way that have helped us grow closer as a team as God continues to draw us closer to Him.
Above and beyond paying the bills, our primary financial purpose is to bring glory and honor to God by handling our money as the gift it truly is; from Him! One example of this is the paying off of the credit card bill which frees up money that was being spent to pay the high interest rate attached to it. This ‘new-found’ cash will now be used to support local charities, for example.
Another important aspect of our family budget has been the faithful maintaining of the tithe to the local church. There is not a legalistic bone in either of our bodies, so we don’t give to the church out of some type of obligation (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 for more on this!). Rather, we choose to give back in this way as one way to bring the before mentioned honor to God. Because we do follow the biblical concept of bringing the first fruits to God as an offering, we write the tithe check before any other bills get paid.
Let me share one last thought, especially with those who may be interested in this, but can’t see any way it will work for you. First of all, “Yes you can!” This is not an insurmountable mountain, rather it is a steep, but climbable hill. Here’s the encouragement: Betsy and I have made our greatest strides with regard to our finances in the last 3 years, when we, by choice, became a one income family. I stepped away from my good paying 40 or more hour per week job as a painter so that I could do ministry the stuff full-time (with no paycheck!). Betsy’s income as an executive in a not-for-profit organization here in Fulton provides us with what we need.
Please know that the decision to drop to one income was not made lightly or quickly. We spent many hours in prayer and discussion about our financial picture, going over our expenses with a fine-toothed comb, looking for areas we could reduce. God blessed this time of preparation as He got our hearts and minds more in-sync with His plans for us. He is faithful to do the same for you!
If you have questions or want to discuss this further, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will gladly, and confidentially, listen.
Blessings and thanks for reading,