Ephesians 5:16: “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
People struggle everyday with money. I recently went to a church program, with my wife, that was set up for couples to improve their marriage. We aren’t having any problems, but I thought it can’t hurt to put Christ in our marriage a little more, and make our 9 out of 10 marriage a 9.5 or 10. I didn’t know much about the program and decided to just see how it all worked. When we got there we heard a great message about Christ centered couples, and then sharing time happened in smaller groups. 90% of the marriage problems where money issues in our small group of 20 people. Secret credit card debts, issues being poor growing up that caused control issues today, jealous over who makes more money or who spends more money, people spending lavishly to show that they have arrived, or to prove they are great providers to themselves and neighbors. My wife and I felt a little out of place, but we also just sat and listened. We shared nothing, we said nothing, and at the end of the night, we left speaking to no one almost running out the door at the end. It was painful to watch, listen to, and to realize that my community is struggling so bad while making on average over $89,000 a household, according to the 2017 census report. Most of the people in the group agreed that the devil put this obstacle in their marriage, and they wanted to find out how to beat the devil.
I don’t think I agree that the devil is the problem with most of these people, and I know the program gets more intense and lasts 16 weeks with trained church members helping each other, but the real problem, I felt, was budgets, and a budget meeting with their spouse. I felt that they should sit down and have an honest healthy budget meeting in their home each week, and that would greatly improve their marriages. Some would need to set communication rules and boundaries to have a courteous meeting, and some of those people might have a 1 out of 10 marriage, and would need to get through the trust issues and work on team “We” more. But, the financial issues can be taught with a budget and communicating throughout the month their budget goals together. That is the best way to beat the devil for many of them.
Luke 16:11: “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?”
I know many of you have glazed over at this point…”Oh No, another budget article!” But, really this is a social epidemic! People all know they must budget even in the FI and FIRE community, but I hear regularly that people started out budgeting to get to FI or FIRE, and then they just tracked their spending on an app. Not really budgeting anymore. Their budget meeting with their spouse turned into a few text messages throughout the month, and the next thing you know you get into a fight over a purchase that blew the budget. The devil will creep up on you like that. It will happen over years, very slowly. It will happen without making a big fuss, and it will happen when you feel everything is wonderful, surprising everyone.
Once it happens, your relationship, your trust, your marital bond will be compromised. Those things will over shadow your initial issue of not having a budget. You won’t recognize the budget is the issue, and you and your spouse will yell at each other over “you just don’t listen to me”, or your trust issues will cloud out the truth, that you lack a budget and a plan together. The budget and the weekly budget meetings are the secret sauce that keeps your financial stability going for the rest of your relationship. You must talk about money and your goals on a regular basis, so that everyone is on the same page…forever!!
Proverbs 15:22: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
As my children get older, we have included them in our budget meetings. We have to budget for our kids after all. We give my daughter a volleyball budget each month and she gets to decide on spending the money on paid practices with her coach, clinics, tournament fees, or other opportunities for the month (BeachVolleyball is lower key, and we can pick how much or how little we do and spend). My boys budget their basketball, soccer, or guitar lessons. We can’t afford all of it, so they decide and make decisions on what they want to do for the month. We also all decide on new items for the kids, such as a new trampoline (it was vetoed), clothing, weekend trips, or if we should increase a budget someplace such as food (Kids love to eat as they grow!). If we are all on the same page, then we get less whining about never getting to eat out, because we all chose that our eating out money would pay for something else for all of us. This strengthens our family bond, as we all get a say in our budget, and we are all on the same page for our monthly spending goals.
I do still feel a little guilty not saying anything in the group setting at church. I felt I could help some of those people. I let my surprise of the situation, and my introvertedness win that round. But, I did see a new perspective on budgets from the experience. I saw how a little thing like communication about money and not working together can cause so many other marital strains. I saw how people who loved each other and pledged to do so forever, can turn on each other and hurt each other quickly over money issues. Not budgeting and communicating allows the devil to creep into your home, your relationship, and if left unchecked you can destroy your greatest financial investment of each other and your marriage. So, don’t become complacent in your budget or talking with your spouse about financial goals. Check in with each other often, and this will help many people in their marriage, and it is such a large underlying issue in our society as a whole. Just budget.
Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
(Let me know how budgeting has helped or hurt your relationship in the comments below. Thanks for reading today!)