Marriage Anchor 10: Finances – A blessing or a curse.

Wed, Jul 7, 2010

Articles At A Glance

"Next to marital infidelity and rejecting your mate as God’s gift and provision for you, poor financial management and stewardship will rapidly strain, strangle, and destroy a once wonderful marriage."

This financial anchor is really about godly stewardship. It is about obeying and trusting God and managing humbly and properly all of the resources He entrusts to you. Unwise financial choices can kill your marriage. Wise financial choices will bring healing, hope, stability and even honor.

Stop listening to what our culture tells you. Stop comparing yourself to others, where they live and what kind of car they drive. Consider adopting the following 11 Anchor Points:

1. All that you are and have is a gift from God. He expects you to wisely manage all that has been entrusted to you. One hundred percent belongs to God. You will either be a wise or a poor steward of it. You will either flounder irresponsibly in the area of personal stewardship or you will seek wise counsel and manage what you have.

2. It is wise to get help. If you are struggling in this area and have more than $1,000 in credit card debt, we urge to get help from a financial counselor. We endorse Crown Ministries and any books written by Larry Burkett or David Ramsey. Also, computer software such as Quicken or the Principal Plan can be of great help.

3. First, you must learn to balance your checkbook each and every month. You need to develop a plan that looks both to the short term (this month up to 12 months) and to the long term (to the end of your retirement years). This is crucial since many of you will be living into your late 80’s and even the 90’s. Your Personal Financial Plan should have three sections:

• A Spending Plan

• A Giving Plan

• A Saving plan

4. Test God? Yes, test God! In the simplest of terms, a good target is to gratefully give back to God at least 10% of the 100% He entrusts to you so the work of the Lord can go forth. God loves a marriage that gives cheerfully, sacrificially, abundantly, and secretly. When in doubt, give. When you are needy, give. When you get a short paycheck or get laid off, give. Learn to give by faith with a grateful heart. When the Holy Spirit nudges you, give. Do not wait to get out of debt, give to the work of the Lord now.

Perhaps the only place in Scripture where God challenges you to test Him is in Malachi 3:7-12:

“Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?’ 8"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. 9You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me. 10Bring 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 you will not have room enough for it. 11I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12"Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.” (Bold added for emphasis)

Luke 6:38 is a great promise from God to you:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Simply put, you cannot out give God. We want to stress that giving out of guilt because you think God will love you more is a wrong motive and certainly not true. What pleases God is learning to give back to Him by faith and with a thankful heart for all He has done for you.

5. Avoid debt. Make it your immediate and long range goal and passion to get out of and avoid debt. We know this is difficult especially for students taking out loans. But with God’s help and your patient self-discipline the above-mentioned goal will serve you well in the long run. If you are in debt and most of you are, make plans to get out of debt as early as possible. In some cases, a person will pay twice as much for a purchase as the original price because of interest paid over the long haul.

6. Spend each week or month less than you earn. Avoid buying things over time. If you need a couch for your family room, do not buy it with interest. Save up a bit each month Keep a written log of this, and when you have enough saved, pay cash. You may have to sit on the floor or on pillows for a while. So what? When you have saved for and then have that couch, it will be fully paid for. Stay away from impulse buying. Many people see something they like and what do they do? They pull out the plastic! The average family’s unpaid ongoing credit card debt is somewhere around $8,000! We know of some missionaries with credit card debt (abuse) of between $25,000 and $28,000! One couple had $50,000 credit card debt!

7. Pay off your credit card(s) each month in full. This is our strong pleading: Get a handle on your credit cards today. If you must have one, it should be used rarely for things like emergencies. One of our daughters and her husband decided to be prudent. They obtained just one credit card with a limit of $1000.00 for emergencies. They say it helps them not to over spend. They have learned it is better to not have such a looming, ever present temptation nesting in their wallet. Here is where self-discipline is essential. We made a commitment long ago to pay off all credit card bills in full each month. We have seen one couple with 12 cards all charged to their highest limits! They ended up divorced and bankrupt. If you cannot make this commitment, get a scissors and cut them all up. You will be glad you did.

8. Divide each paycheck compartmentally. A great idea is to get help from a relative or close friend or a financial counselor. They will help you develop a plan. For instance, we save $50 a month for our annual vacation. When the vacation time comes, the money is there. We do the same for Christmas gifts, car repairs and registration, house maintenance, property tax, income tax preparation, etc. Since I have to pay $100 a year in December in order to renew my Ordination certificate, we save $10 each month in our bank’s savings account. Then in December, I have the $100 that has been building up all year plus I have an extra $20 for next year. We have 5 daughters. We promised each of them that we would contribute $1,500 toward their wedding. Now that is not much when you think of wedding costs these days, but with five daughters that is all we could do. We have been saving $25 a month for many months now. Four daughters are married. If and when the fifth gets married, we will be ready. As of today, we have $1,225 saved. This plan really works! You should also get professional advice from a Certified Financial Advisor about setting money aside each pay check for your children’s college / technical school costs and for retirement.

9. Consider buying used cars. There are arguments for both buying new and used cars. At this stage in our life, we will never buy a new car again! Once you drive it off the lot, it depreciates thousands of dollars in value. We buy only used cars. We save $25 here and $50 there. We recently paid cash for a used, four year old Buick with 53,000 miles on it. We paid one third the original sticker price.

10. Avoid loaning money to loved ones. Our experience as biblical mentors is that it strains relationships in an unhealthy manner. If you want to give them money, great! Give without conditions. Give with absolutely no strings attached. Don’t even keep a record of how much you give a loved one. We helped each of our children with some of their college expenses. However, we told them they would have to pay for the rest of their education. We know not all parents will be able to do this and that is understandable.

11. Never take a second mortgage out on your house! No matter what the need, refuse to do this! You are putting yourself in financial bondage in your later years. If you want to go on that big vacation, painstakingly save for it each and every month. Without self-discipline, poverty, debt, and strained relationships occur.

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