Cash System- Audra's Pick
When Jordan and I got married we were on our way to racking up a hefty credit card debt. Once we realized the mess we were in, we had no idea how to fix it. We decided to attend a finance course at our church, similar to a Dave Ramsey class. The class taught us how to not only pay off the debt, but how to divide out the money we had to spend each month into a cash system. This way we could physically see how much money we had to spend. When the cash was gone out of a certain category each month, it was gone...until the next month. This is a plan we still use today. Not only did it help us pay off the debt we had, but it has helped us to save a large percentage of our paychecks every month!
The "Spender" Pays the Bills - Laura's Pick
A couple of years ago we moved to a new town and during the moving process, I was overwhelmed by all of our "stuff". I began a journey of wanting to simplify our life! That's when I discovered a blog called, Becoming Minimalist. One day I stumbled upon "Don't Buy Stuff You Don't Need". In this particular blog, the author Joshua Becker, says to put the spender in charge of personal finances. Y'all this was a game changer for us!
With me being the spender in our marriage (and having no clue of our personal finances), I just could not understand why we were not able to save any money. Once I began paying the bills, I say things to Boogie like, "Do you know how many times we have been out to eat this month?" or "We are spending too much on ______ (whatever it might be)." He would just kindly smile at me, knowing that I was finally figuring it out! Now that I am in charge of the finances, I am much more aware of what's going in and what's going out and we are in a much better place now! I realize this may not work for everyone, but Boogie and I both agree that we do not want any debt, so this works for us.
Show Respect with Every Purchase - Rebecca's Pick
I jokingly like to say that financial wisdom is one of my husband's spiritual gifts. He has a lot of it (and I don't)! I recognized this very early in our marriage. I had a hefty credit card bill when he met me and he insisted that I pay it off before our wedding. Talk about hard core! But, I quickly realized that we were better for it and have since respected all his financial decisions which include not spending what we don't have (no credit cards), practicing prudence and contentment, thoroughly reading customer reviews before purchases, and clipping coupons. Oh, how he loves coupons! I will be walking into a store and a text from him will pop up on my phone with a coupon for that store. No joke!
But, above all, the winning ingredient is clear communication. No lying. No telling him the pre-tax price. No hiding purchases. No justifying purchases because it was a major "Sale". No "extra" purchases without receiving his blessing. This creates trust in our marriage and communicates to him (the sole provider) that I appreciate his hard work and use wisdom in my spending. I may not have many money saving tips but I have learned how to be respectful and transparent in my spending and that has saved us in other ways!
For more on trust and respect with money in marriage, read this.
Kids and Money - Tammy's Pick
Once our kiddos started hitting double digits, we quickly realized their wants were increasing with the years. We implemented a few guidelines.
1. Out with friends - If the kiddos are out with friends, the money they spend comes from their own pocket. No money, no outing. Want money, do a chore or two.
2. Material Goods - We pay for the basics. Anything over and above, they pay for half of the price of the item. As they age, we slowly step back our part. By 18, they'll pay the full amount.
3. Car - We've told our kids if they want a car at 16 or whenever, we will match what they save towards it.
4. Christmas/ Birthdays - We have a 3 gift limit as well as a set amount for each season so as to not over give or over spend.
5. Chores - We choose to pay for extra chores over the typical housekeeping chores.
These are just a few of the ideas we TRY to implement. It's hard with the changing times and pace of life, but it is our desire to prepare them for adult responsibilities during the time they are under our roof.
Break A Money Spending Habit - Colene's Pick
An excellent way to save money is to break a habit that continually costs you money. I have developed the unfortunate habit of buying things simply because they are on sale. Instead of patting myself on the back for finding such an excellent deal, I try to instead focus on the opportunity cost of this purchase. Asking questions like, "What else could I do with this money?" and "Do I really need this?" help me avoid wasteful purchases.
Read Colene's excellent post on money and faith here.
Hebrews 11:1 reminds us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” So much of our lives as Christians involves the things that are unseen; the feeling of God moving through a worship service, the silent prayer you whisper over a friend or family member in need, or the emotion you feel when a sermon truly speaks straight to your heart. However, my prayer for you in this writing is to speak openly and honestly about a way that you can display your faith that is seen; your money.
Did your heart just sink a little? If so, I totally understand your hesitation! Can’t we just focus our hearts and minds on God and worship in a way that isn’t as tangible as reaching into our wallets? As a worship pastor’s wife, I love to witness the beautiful demonstration of our faith when we offer up our worship to God through song. But as an economics professor, I also feel an awesome responsibility to apply biblical wisdom to the study of my favorite subject, and it is clear to me that offerings of money are also beautiful acts of worship.
There are many worthy ways of giving our money to God’s kingdom. For example, you can donate to a family in need, you can sponsor a child in Africa, you can pledge to support the building fund at your local church, or you can drop a twenty in the plate during the offering. However, I believe that God calls us to much more than random acts of giving; we can worship through consistent, intentional, and proportional tithes and offerings.
I’ve always known that giving money was an important part of the worship experience. Growing up in a tiny Southern Baptist church, I was the designated “penny march” leader each Sunday as I walked up and down the aisles collecting spare change from the congregation to donate to the local children’s home. (I was awarded this distinction as one of the two children who attended the church.) When I was ten years old, I competed in Bible drills at my church, diligently memorizing the following verses from Malachi 3 which address tithing: “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings….Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
As a teenager, I heard testimonies of church members who tithed faithfully, and I witnessed my own parents write checks to the church even during months where money was not as plentiful. However, only when I got married did I fully begin to appreciate the profound responsibility and blessing that comes from giving and tithing.
Tithing refers to giving a portion (often one-tenth) of one’s income or property. Abraham paid a tithe to Melchizidek (see Genesis 14) and Jacob promised God, “of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (see Genesis 28). A tithe of one-tenth of crops and animals was required according to Mosaic law.
We now live under the New Covenant. Even though tithing is not specifically commanded in the New Testament, Christ serves as a model of giving that we should seek to emulate: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). In addition to the sacrificial giving of Christ, the New Testament is actually filled with financial wisdom regarding giving. Jesus alludes to the principle of giving in proportion to what one has when he says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) In Luke 11, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for tithing to the letter of the law (even right down to their kitchen spices!) while ignoring compassion and mercy. Mark 12 tells the story of the widow who gave generously despite her poverty. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 reminds us that “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
From these verses, I am compelled to believe that we should give generously and joyfully back to God. Rather than seeing tithing as a rule to be followed, we should approach it as a way of furthering God’s kingdom and as a way of acknowledging that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Psalm 24:1 says “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” This verse tells us that God owns everything, including our money. Giving to His church and His kingdom is the least we can do to thank Him for His provision. Sadly, many Christian families are missing out on the blessing that is tithing. According to Christianity Today, only 10-25% of the average congregation tithes. Tithing helps to support our churches and mission work around the world, but it is also a way God involves us in His plan of redemption.
What should a tithe look like in your life? I urge you to consider tithing consistently, intentionally, and proportionally. Consistent giving implies that a portion of each paycheck is given to the church. Giving intentionally means that you give to God first, before considering other needs, rather than giving God what is left at the end of the month. You should also question whether your giving is proportional to your income. In this way, “he who has been given much” gives more.
So, am I advising that you give one-tenth of your income to the church? The amount should ultimately be determined by listening to God as He speaks to you in your unique situation. Ten percent may be too little!
If you need some practical advice on how to begin tithing, you might use a strategy that I suggest to my students. Begin your monthly budget by writing down your monthly income. Below this, write down every way that you need/choose to spend that money. The very first line of spending that you list, however, should be the amount you have chosen to give to God. If you do this, the black and white contrast of what God has given you and what you are giving to Him may cause you to adjust your giving habits.
As Malachi 3 suggests, tithing is one way that I have been able to see God richly pour out a blessing over my life. It has strengthened my marriage and given me a healthier perspective on spending than I otherwise would have. I hope you will consider worshipping God not just in the unseen places of your heart and mind, but also through tithes and offerings of your money.
Colene Trent, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Economics in the McAfee School of Business at Union University. At Union, she teaches classes in microeconomics, international economics, managerial economics, managerial finance, and personal financial management. She enjoys ministering to students through economics, and she loves encouraging them as they prepare for their future careers. Colene serves on the worship team of her church alongside her husband, David, who is the worship pastor and a singer-songwriter. Colene serves as the director of the Miss Tennessee Iris Princess Program, a mentoring program for young girls, so she loves all things that sparkle. When she isn’t teaching, you will likely find her completing a Pinterest-inspired DIY project.
How to THRIVE in your Wedding Vows Series
Disclaimer - Because of sin, there is serious dysfunction in some marriages today. This series does not mean to whitewash any problems inside of broken marriages. Instead, I desire to uncover the beauty of the vows thru a Biblical worldview and how they are meant to play out in a healthy marriage.
I was five months pregnant when my husband called to tell me he had lost his job. Shock and disbelief flooded my mind. Questions pinballed through my mind: “How?” “Why?” “Don’t they know I’m pregnant?” “What will we do?” etc., etc., etc.
On the flip side, we’ve had times of financial blessings where we have stepped back and wondered at the sweet benevolence. Questions like, “What are we going to do with this?" “Where should we spend it?” “Should we put it into savings for a rainy day?” excitedly skipped from our lips.
Situations like these --when we are all misty-eyed and saying our vows, “for richer or poorer”-- seem almost romantic. Like “We love each other!” “Love is all we need!” “We’ll always make the best decisions financially together and for the benefit of the Kingdom.” As the years roll by and children, as well as, bills and other adult responsibilities start to arise, “for richer and for poorer” can threaten to divide the oneness of marriage.
I'm sure I don't need to tell you that money ranks in the top 3 reasons for divorce or discord today. A myriad of reasons could be behind this statistic: erratic spending by one partner, undisclosed bills, job loss or change, etc.
It comes as no surprise that this is another area the world bullies us by telling us how to spend our money and where to spend it. It tempts us to the next best thing with a click of a mouse or a swipe of a card. All the while, drawing our hearts away from “In Richer, In Poorer."
As Jesus girls and wives, we want to know what God says about money. So, how does one thrive in the midst of “For Richer, For Poorer?” By not allowing either side of the spectrum to pull us from the beauty of being one flesh. The oneness that comes when we say, "I do."
1 Timothy 6:6-12 gives us perspective on how to handle our money.
A. The Perspective of Contentment
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. vs. 6
Pinterest is delightful to find the latest recipe for chicken or a last minute dessert idea. But Pinterest can also steal our joy and contentment as we scroll through the most recent home decorating tip or latest clothing styles. Our hearts tug at our emotions causing us to become discontent with what we have in the lure of wanting the next best thing.
Paul offers the remedy in verse 6: godliness + contentment = great gain. Translated for us as wives: 1. I will trust God whether He gives us much or if He chooses to provide us with little.
2. I will respect my husband's efforts to provide for us as best as he can.
For Richer, For Poorer Question for Ourselves: Am I content in God’s yeses and noes in our marital financial life? Am I respecting my husband's efforts to provide for us?
B. The Perspective of Temporary
For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. vs. 7
If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. vs. 8
In the rat race of life, it’s easy to get caught up in the here and now. We want to enjoy the latest vacation spot and trends and thrills. But all that glitters in the world can draw our focus from our reality. As Billy Graham famously repeated, "My home is in heaven. I'm just traveling through this world."
The same temporary perspective needs to hold true in how we view money in our marriages. If we have food and covering, we are blessed. Extra is nice, but not if it draws us away from spending each day living with eternity in our minds. We can't take things with us into eternity. Only people.
"Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?"
Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God." Proverbs 30:8-9
For Richer, For Poorer Question for Ourselves: Am I truly content with what I have right now, the food and coverings the Lord has graciously provided for my husband and me? Does our checkbook reflect an eternal perspective?
C. The Perspective of Enough
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. vs 10
Like the internet, money is neutral; it is neither evil nor good. Loving or coveting money is a root of evil, but money itself is not evil. How does that play into marriage?
We as wives need to make sure we have a Kingdom mentality when it comes to money.
- We must make tithing a priority.
- It is good to increase our giving, rather than our bank accounts or wardrobes.
- It is beautiful to be generous with the needy in the body of Christ, providing for their needs before fulfilling our wants.
For Richer, for Poorer Question for Ourselves: Am I using money or is money using me? Does it cause me to wander from my faith? What would my husband say about me and my spending or saving habits?
It boils down to this: like sex, money is very much a part of our marriage covenant. While the world is busy telling us its thoughts, we want the truth about money and marriage from our Creator God.
D. The Perspective of God
1. Team Mentality
A couple should focus first on building a strong team mentality and seeking God individually as well as a couple, rather than striving to accumulate things. (1)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
2. Biblical stewardship
A winning mentality in life and in marriage is to remember that everything belongs to God. He has lent it to us to care for and to bring Him glory. (2)
The earth is the LORD’s,
and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
3. Our Finances
No secrets. No separate anything. That's the beauty of being one flesh. "Every dollar brought into the home is a dollar that belongs to the home. Every dollar that goes out the door is a dollar that the household spent." (3)
This explains why a man leaves his father and mother
and is joined to his wife,
and the two are united into one.
Want to fight less about money? Create a budget and stick to it. Coming together to create a plan for money and utilizing it is life-giving to any marriage. (4)
“His master replied, ‘
Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things; I
will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Prayer is huge. It changes our hearts to become more like God's. It helps us become content with what we have. It reminds us of the hope of eternity. It satisfies us with enough so we can bless others with our excess.
‘Call to me and I will answer you
and tell you great and unsearchable things
you do not know.
Love and money do mix beautifully together… in God’s economy. "For Richer, For Poorer" is a gentle reminder that whether we have much or we have little, we're a team. We are committed. We can thrive in the lean times and in the times of plenty.
Regardless of which side of the spectrum we are on, we will lock arms and hearts for the glory of God and for the good of our marriage.
Wedding Vows Series
I Do? Who Knew? - Part 1
Heat Up Your "To Have and to Hold" - Part 2
Winning Solution in "For Better or For Worse" - Part 3
Do not Grow Weary "in Sickness and In Health" - Part 4
1. Focus on the Family.
2. Fierce Marriage
3. Bible Money Matters
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
No one, well at least almost no one, goes into marriage thinking about how they can get out of it. Quite the opposite actually. We happily agree to be completely and totally devoted to this person in every possible way forever and ever until death do us part. I mean we “love” them! How hard could it be, right? Wrong! Somewhere along the way, real life happens and two imperfect people are left to try and figure out what “love” really is.
Although not exhaustive, I’ve created a list, and narrowed it down, of some of the most common problems that bring marriages to divorce and could quite possibly bring your own marriage to an end if not dealt with quickly and properly. This article is not written in any way to condemn people who have already been involved in a divorce. This is meant to inform those who are married or will be some day, so they can avoid these costly mistakes.
1. Unspoken Expectations - Let’s look at how unspoken expectations could break down the bond of a marriage. Say, for instance, that while I was growing up my father brought my mother flowers for every special occasion. He never forgot a birthday, anniversary, or other important date. And because this is what I have been exposed to, this is what I expect my husband to do for me. I would never ask my husband to bring me flowers, I just expect that he will. And because my husband is a completely different person than I am, who was exposed to completely different experiences in his life, and who has completely different ideas of showing love than I do, he doesn’t bring me flowers. Not for my birthday, or our anniversary, not on Valentine’s Day, not any day. Each occasion I get my feelings hurt, I feel unloved by my husband, and truthfully, I’m a bit angry. This may seem like a silly example, but how many times in our marriages do we expect our spouse to do something or be something only to be extremely disappointed when they fail to deliver? And all because we never even communicated our expectations to them. No matter how strange it may feel, we need to have good, open, honest communication to let our spouse know what we desire and let them share the same with us!
2. Unrealistic Expectations - Communicating what we want and need with our spouse is the first step. However, we must be reasonable with our expectations as well. Just because I tell my husband that I desire for him to call me at least 10 times a day while he is at work just to check in, doesn’t mean that this is realistic. Communicating with each other is so important. Talk it out and come to an agreeable decision.
Social media plays a HUGE role in feeding our unrealistic expectations. I want a beach vacation, or a Disney vacation, or a new house, or a bigger house, or a nicer house…even though we don’t have enough money to afford it. Or, I want my husband to be more like her husband and take me on a date, or buy me new jewelry, or listen like he does, or be more sensitive like he is. Seeing the pretty facade posted on someone’s media wall leads us to the LIE that the grass is greener. Do not let the exterior of someone else's life ruin how you feel about the interior of yours.
Television can also lead us to fill our minds with unrealistic expectations. Think about your favorite show you watch on TV right now. Even the drama, the junk, the yuck, in each character’s life is glamorized. Our real life messes rarely play out in such a glamorous way. That’s because TV IS NOT REAL! It’s scripted to be glamorous. And though we would all say we understand that, many times we find ourselves disappointed when our own life doesn’t unfold quite so beautifully.
I would guess if you look back on the last couple of disagreements you had with your spouse, it could be traced back to either an unspoken or unrealistic expectation. Find some time to spend with just the two of you and talk through these things together! First, think through your own expectations of your spouse. Recognize any unrealistic fantasies you have about marriage and then confess them to your spouse.
3. Selfishness - Unfortunately, my spouse and I are sinful, selfish, human beings and many times, even though I know what my husband needs or expects, I choose not to meet that need or expectation, simply because I don’t feel like it. This one is very simple to understand. When we know how to make our partner feel loved and we choose not to, this is selfishness. Easy to understand, harder to apply! In every decision we make that involves another person we can choose to be selfish or selfless. From decisions as simple as where do you want to eat dinner or what should we watch on TV to will I meet the needs in your life that make you feel loved, respected, and supported, we have a choice to make.
4. Unmet Needs - Selfishness and number four go hand in hand. Once we have communicated effectively with each other, we must work unselfishly to meet our spouse’s needs. The reason this takes us being unselfish is because we don’t usually share the same needs to the same degree. Ladies, I know we don’t like to talk about this, but the number one need of most men is sex. But, it is usually NOT the number one need of most women. Therefore, we have to unselfishly put our spouse above ourselves to make sure we are lovingly meeting their needs, and vice versa. When both husband’s and wife’s needs are fulfilled by the other, a bond is created and strengthens as this cycle continues. This all goes back to good communication! When we are talking it out, letting each other know what we need, desire, and expect, and then unselfishly fulfilling these wants, desires, and needs for each other, marital harmony is created!
5. Money - Money is said to be one of the top reasons for couples fighting and for divorce. Can you see how some of the things mentioned above, when not handled properly could lead to problems over money? Let’s look at some possible money troubles.
*Greediness - In this case, the unfortunate reality is that it’s not the fault of money at all. It’s the fault of one or both parties being greedy. More money seems like the answer. If we just had more money we could have the house we want and the cars we want and the clothes we want and then, we’d be happy. But if this is your mindset, more money usually just makes you want even more. And if you don’t have enough money to pay the bills you already have, then you’ve overcommitted yourself. We should only buy the things we can actually afford to pay for. This eliminates stress between couples. Being content with where we are in life and grateful for the things we do have, will create calmness between you and your spouse when the bills come due.
*Disagreements - Maybe you have money to spend, but you can’t agree on how to spend it, or one of you wants to spend one wants to save.
*Uneducated - Perhaps you are like Jordan and me when we got married. We didn’t have a clue of the damage we were doing as we racked up debt. It wasn’t until we owed several thousands of dollars that we realized we had created a problem. I’m sure the money troubles list could go on and on but we will stop here. Instead of fighting about money, commit to praying about it. Try a class at your church or a money education program like Dave Ramsey. Find a plan that works for you and work toward reaching it together!
So as we work at this thing called marriage, we learn that real "love" is not a feeling at all, it's an action. It's a way of living. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
On our own these things are difficult if not impossible to do. But when you have a relationship with Jesus and you spend plenty of time with Him praying over your marriage and reading what His Word has to say, the impossible becomes possible!
You may do every one of these things well and your spouse may be the one who is falling short. Remember, you can only control what you do. But don’t let this deter you from loving your spouse well. Keep up the hard work and pray passionately that your spouse will recognize their deficit and will pick up the slack. Be careful to pray over your own attitude so that you do not become embittered toward your spouse for not doing their part.
If you and your spouse are struggling, please seek help today! Satan wants nothing more than to destroy your family and eliminate your marriage. We would be happy to help you find a Christian counselor in your area. Comment here, send a private Facebook message, or e-mail us at ByFaithSheGirls@byfaithshe.com.
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.