Hey guys, in my last post I declared that unyielding faithfulness is the top goal in your marriage and should be a major priority in your life. In today’s post, I’ll cover the second convictional goal in your marriage: financial security.
GOAL #2 - Financial Security for my Wife
As a husband, you have a God-given responsibility to provide for the material needs of your family. Failure in this area is tantamount to apostasy (see 1 Timothy 5:8)—no pressure, right? Unfortunately, I have seen many married couples fall into the trap of financial insolvency, which means you can’t pay your bills when they’re due. Insolvency usually happens as a result of poor budgeting and spending habits, an unexpected loss of income, and/or increased expenses.
However, financial security doesn’t mean to simply pursue a bigger paycheck or a spartan existence. Let me define financial security by what it’s not and what it is:
Financial security is NOT about living an extravagant lifestyle.
Real financial security is living without worry over monetary issues. It involves living within one’s means and reflects contentment with what one has.
Financial security IS about living as a steward.
Real financial security holds the biblical principles of stewardship as binding for all Christians. Consider that there are over 2,000 verses in the Bible on the topic of money compared to 500 verses on prayer. Having studied the scriptures for over 40 years, I can tell you without hesitation that the doctrine of stewardship is consistently presented as integral to a life of faith.
Stewardship means you are responsible to manage all the resources of your life for the glory of God, acknowledging Him as provider (see Deuteronomy 8:18). Too many couples ignore this biblical principle and think they are the source of their wealth. However, your ability to make money is a gift from God—if you were born with a particular talent, remember that you didn’t ask for it, you didn’t earn it, and you did nothing to merit it.
Three Ways to Live as a Steward
Allow me to recommend three ways every couple can live as a steward, avoid insolvency, and reduce financial stress. I’m also putting these in order of my personal practices.
1. Share Generously
God uses money to test you, and He even challenges you to prove his faithfulness through giving (see Malachi 3:10). That’s because it is effortless to spend money on that which is your real god. For example, if you find it hard to give, but you find it incredibly easy to spend money on clothes, your wardrobe may be the real treasury of your heart. You’re looking to personal appearance to get acceptance rather than embracing the acceptance that Christ has already provided you.
Another example: if you find it hard to give but easy to pour money into savings and investments, your wealth may be your real treasure. You’re looking at your bank statement to give you a sense of control in an uncontrollable world. However, if you honor the Lord with your wealth through generous giving, it reveals where He stands in your heart. Moreover, He has promised to bless you (Proverbs 3:9-10). He will never be your debtor.
If you honor the Lord with your wealth through generous giving, it reveals where He stands in your heart.
Supporting your local church is a great place to start giving. As a husband, you need to lead by example and teach your family the importance of giving as biblical stewardship. Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19 and determine to trust God with what he places in your hands. Many young couples fail to give to the Lord’s work because they honestly can’t figure out how they can afford to do so. Living as a steward requires faith. Don’t stumble over the numbers. Trust God and see if he will not “open the windows of heaven” on your behalf. Remember, “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
2. Save Purposely
After generous giving, I encourage you to save with a purpose. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus clearly taught that the Lord doesn’t give to all equally, but he does equally command us to grow what he has entrusted to us. Solomon provides us with a wise and practical approach: “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” (Proverbs 13:11) The goal of savings isn’t to accumulate wealth for its own sake but to help you handle life’s unexpected expenses without going into debt (e.g., Dave Ramsey suggests building up 3-6 months of living expenses in an “emergency fund.”)
Jesus clearly taught that the Lord doesn’t give to all equally, but he does equally command us to grow what he has entrusted to us.
In Luke 14:28-30, Jesus taught the importance of planning. In this vein, discipline yourself to automatically put something in savings on a consistent basis, before you pay your bills or buy groceries. Even if it’s a small amount, it will ingrain a vitally important habit for young couples that can help them stay out of debt. If you’re currently struggling with debt and need help in this area, I strongly recommend reading The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey or enrolling in Financial Peace University at www.daveramsey.com/FPU. It will give you a plan to get out of debt and onto solid financial footing.
Many years ago, when Judith and I had not been married very long, her aunt, who was independently wealthy, advised us to save our money. I remember her saying, “Even if you have to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a while, put something into savings each week.” We did not follow through on that advice and learned some things the hard way. We now save weekly, and it has helped us immensely.
The old adage is so true: “People don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan.” So, decide to save money and set goals. Living by faith in no way implies you shouldn’t keep an eye on the future.
3. Spend Wisely
A dear friend of mine with a successful career in finance remarked to me recently, “About 90% of couple’s discretional spending is on non-essentials.” In other words, most of what we spend after paying the bills is on things we don’t need. To combat this, create a budget each month that dictates how you will use your income to give, save and spend—instead of wondering where all the money went at the end of the month. If you prioritize your needs over wants, you can spend less and reduce the temptation to make up the difference with a credit card. (To get started with a budget, Intuit’s Mint.com and Dave Ramsey’s Everydollar.com offer free, powerful online budgeting tools.)
If you prioritize your needs over wants, you can spend less and reduce the temptation to make up the difference with a credit card.
Also, learn to be content with what you have and avoid coveting what others have. The Bible says, “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.’” (Hebrews 13:5) Prayerfully consider every major expenditure and make sure your spouse supports it. Honestly examine your motivations, e.g., Do I really need this new power tool or could I get the job done with what I have or borrow one from a neighbor? Would buying a good, low-mileage used car be sufficient instead of that brand new shiny one I’ve been eyeing?
Finally, I encourage you to evaluate your spending patterns. Making a list of expenditures for say, the last three months, provides perspective on things you can eliminate in the future. (Mint.com and Everydollar.com also provide easy ways to analyze spending trends in your bank accounts.) Do you really need that subscription? Is monthly charge really worth it? Sitting down together as a couple and evaluating how you spend money can be a transforming experience for the good of your marriage and your future financial health.
There is so much I could say about this topic, and I sincerely hope that these few paragraphs have helped you start thinking in the right direction. You don’t have to live with financial stress; help is available, and the sooner you take action the better.
Stay tuned for Goal #3 - Lifelong Passion with my Wife...