Question: My husband and I started a budget several months ago, but it has been a point of anger and strife. It seems that whatever we do, we do to the extreme. My husband is so committed to this budget that he allows no flexibility whatsoever. We have eliminated all entertainment and recreation, all new clothing, and have sold my car. He now is seriously considering selling our home and moving into a much smaller home, even though our budget is balancing fine. Can you help?
Answer: Genesis 2:24 says God created a husband and a wife to be one. That means that a budget must work for two people and not just for one. A common error in budgeting is to try to over-correct previous bad habits. Crash budgets may work on paper, but not where people are involved.
I saw this principle demonstrated in one of the first couples I ever counseled. The husband was a financial analyst with a Harvard College MBA, but he didn’t know how to balance his own checkbook. After our second counseling session, I asked them to go home and develop a budget to control their miscellaneous overspending. (Miscellaneous is that category that eats up your money, and you can never remember where it went.) In their case, they were over-spending [a large amount of money] on a variety of things.
They left and came back in about two months. I asked the husband, “How do you like the plan so far?” He said, “This is great! I’ve got our spending under control and we’re not going any further into debt. In fact, we’re actually paying off some of our indebtedness and have a small savings.”
I asked the wife, “How do you like the plan so far?” She said, “This is absolutely the worst thing that has ever happened in my life. I thought you told me this would be a plan that would work for both of us.” “That’s right,” I said. “Well, let me tell you something. He has decided that my hair is miscellaneous, our kids are miscellaneous, my car is miscellaneous, the house is miscellaneous…”
She went on to name the things that he had trimmed out of the budget. “But,” she said, “his bass boat is not miscellaneous. When the motor on his bass boat broke and he had to spend two hundred dollars on it, it was a necessity of life.” Obviously, he had made out a budget that worked very well for him, cutting his wife’s discretionary spending, but sacrificing none of his own.
I shared a reference in Proverbs that I thought would fit the situation perfectly. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel“ (Proverbs 12:15). The primary counselor of any husband is his wife.
This question/answer article was written came from the book, Answers to Your Family’s Financial Questions, written by Dr Larry Burkett, published by Focus on the Family Publishing. Unfortunately, we regret to say that this book is no longer being printed.
— ALSO —
The ministry of Preach It – Teach It has an article posted on their web site that we highly recommend you read. It suggests that there may even be a neurological reason why husbands and wives differ in their approaches to how they spend and use money. Please read:
Plus, the ministry of Focus on the Family has a few insightful articles posted on their web site which could help you, that further addresses this subject of conflicting attitudes and budget struggles. To read these article (and other related articles as well), please click onto the link provided below:
Filed under: Finances in Marriage