Last week we gave you a few money tips to help you in your marriage. We promised a follow up Insight with additional money pointers with practical guidance. So here it is… we hope it helps. Some of these points will just confirm that you’re doing what you should. But others may give you good ideas to read and adopt for your use.
Money Pointers for Your Use
This first money tip concerns Christmas shopping (although it also pertains to shopping anytime of the year). So, first:
“Here is a five-step guide to help you know when a purchase is an appropriate one. There is nothing sacred about this list. But it is a good thing to think through each time you go to buy something—especially when buying higher priced items. Don’t buy unless:
• You need the item. If it is not a need, then why buy?
• You can afford the item. That means that you don’t go into debt to buy it.
• You have planned to buy it. There should be no impulse spending.
• The price is at, or less than the price you had planned to pay.
• You were not manipulated to buy the item. Don’t let someone convince you that you need something without taking time to consider it yourself.” (David Peach from the article, Christian Stewardship Advice: 7 Tips for Handling Money)
More Money Pointers
These next money pointers concern the way in which you make your purchases. When it comes to credit card spending we go along with something that David and Claudia Arp said:
“We try to limit our credit-card spending to what we can pay off each month. When things are really tight, we try not to use credit cards. Suzy and Hank, parents of three girls who all like to shop, came up with their own recipe for handling plastic. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Then bake the cards for ten minutes!”
Both of these suggestions are good options. We figure if we don’t have the money to pay for something (other than when we had our home mortgage) we can’t afford it. That has been our philosophy for most of our marriage. We’re sure that is why we are debt-free at this point in our marriage. We continually had that goal in mind.
Emergencies happen… yes! We’ve been stuck in that place many times. We’ve had car troubles, home repairs, and medical emergencies. But we also have worked to keep an emergency fund readily available to help us through those times. We’ve worked hard to do this even though our income has been very limited all throughout our married life. We encourage you to also get yourself to that place (even if it’s just little-by-little).
On the other hand, it’s important to note:
“Research shows that simply using a credit card for the sake of convenience can make you spend at least thirty percent more than you otherwise would!” (Ron Blue)
It’s not the shopping that’s the problem —it’s the temptation to buy “more” while shopping. Temptation is temptation. If it will hurt your relationship with God and/or with your spouse, stay out of places where you will be tempted. This applies to moral issues and financial issues.
So, if credit cards are causing problems for you:
“Some families function well with a cash system, avoiding check-writing and charges. [Do this whenever it’s possible.] This is often called the ‘envelope system.’ Since you can’t just leave envelopes of cash lying around, it requires a safe place to keep the money. For each expenditure such as transportation, food, meals out, clothing, entertainment, and miscellaneous), the allotted cash is put in a marked envelope.
“When the envelope is empty, that’s the end of spending in that category. (That is unless there is money in the miscellaneous envelope that should only be used by mutual agreement.) Each month, money put in the envelopes can be adjusted for special needs.” (Caryl Krueger, from the book, “222 Terrific Tips for Two”)
Money Pointers on Being in Agreement
We’ve seen this work well for a lot of couples that just can’t handle paying off their credit cards within 30 days. It’s something to consider. And so is this:
“It’s vitally important that couples sit down together and determine what type of a money management system will work best for them as a couple. Because each couple is different, there’s no ‘one-system-fits-all’ when it comes to marriage money management. For instance, my husband and I throw all of our money into one bank account. We then manage it accordingly. My mom and step dad have separate bank accounts. They have one joint bank account in which they each put in their portion of money to cover the joint bills that need to be paid, such as the house payment and the utilities.
“Although some statistics show that couples who combine their money generally have more financial success, this is not always the optimum choice for every marriage. Therefore, it’s vital that you and your spouse sit down together. It’s important to figure out which type of money management system will work best for your marriage.” (Laurie Blank in the article, “10 Keys to Managing Money Successfully in Marriage”)
On the Other Hand:
Christian financial expert, Dave Ramsey disagrees. He says:
“Marriage is a partnership. The officiant said, ‘And now you are one.’ Both parties need to be involved in the finances. Separating the money and splitting the bills is a bad idea that only leads to more money and relationship problems down the road. Don’t keep separate accounts. Put all of your money together and begin to look at it as a whole.”
We agree with Dave Ramsey… if it is at ALL possible. But some spouses just won’t partner with their spouse on coming to an agreement on how they should spend their money. If that’s so, then you have real marriage problems. And the best solution to this is to have a counselor help you to work through this (and any other) issue. But if your spouse won’t do that, then it may be better to separate at least some of your money so you don’t go bankrupt.
So, here is our disclaimer:
We realize that some spouses just won’t work with each other to be on the same “financial page” so to speak. If you find yourself in that place, just do the best you can. All the while pray that God will help you to arrive at a breakthrough. We’ve seen this happen with some couples. So it IS possible that things can turn in a better direction. But you may have to work with things the way they are for the time being. Do this even though you’re still believing God for a miracle down the road.
More Money Pointers
When it comes to how you and your spouse handle money, here are a few additional money pointers that can help you:
“Know each other’s money weaknesses. Nearly all people have money ‘weaknesses’. Due to past money lessons or childhood events, some people hoard money. Some people spend it as soon as they get it. Some people abhor debt while others embrace it. By knowing and understanding you and your spouse’s money management weaknesses, you can work together to help each other overcome those weaknesses and build a solid financial house together.” (Laurie Blank in the article, “10 Keys to Managing Money Successfully in Marriage”)
On the flip side:
“Respect each other’s strong points. Different people are good at different things and this holds true for money as well. Some of us are natural-born savers. Some have a good head for numbers and budgeting while others just like to spend like there’s no tomorrow. Be aware of which of you in the marriage is better at which financial skill and divide up tasks accordingly.
“If you’re the spender, maybe you shouldn’t be the one in charge of the debit card. But if your good financial planner is bad at sending out payments on time, that may be a better task for you. Figure out what each of you is best at when it comes to money and respect each other’s skills.” (Rachel R, from the Internet article, “7 Pieces of Money Advice for Married Couples to Help You Get Ahead”)
Here are two money pointers to note:
“Think ahead to avoid problems. ‘Which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?‘ (Luke 14:28) Too often, couples put off planning until they’re so deeply in debt that it seems impossible to get out. That’s not planning; it’s reacting. Couples need to begin planning by writing down their goals and objectives. This should include a balanced budget. These goals and objectives need to be reviewed yearly. (Chuck Bentley, from the Focus on the Family article, “Marriage and Money: What Does God Expect?”)
“Even if you have a great career, earn a comfortable living and don’t have to worry about debt, you could find yourself woefully unprepared for an emergency. ‘Couples today are under so much stress that anything could tip them,’ says Ruth Hayden. [She’s the author of “For Richer, Not Poorer: The Money Book for Couples.”] An unexpected pink slip, an accident, illness — anything could throw you off track if you don’t have an emergency savings account.
“‘With the couples we interviewed, we found a tendency to panic [in an unexpected emergency]. That could lead to the wrong decisions,’ says Christine Larson [co-author of “The Family CFO”]. Bottom line? All couples should have an emergency stash of three to six months’ worth of living expenses held in a safe place, like a money-market fund. Simply knowing it’s there can reduce stress, since you know you’re not walking a fine line between comfort and catastrophe.” (Aleksandra Todorova, from the Internet article, “The Six Financial Mistakes Couples Make”)
Here’s a biggie that has gotten a lot of couples in trouble:
“Don’t keep big financial secrets. Not being honest about the cost of large financial purchases or keeping debts hidden is considered financial infidelity by many people. Such secrets can destroy your marriage.” (Sheri Stritof, from the Internet article, “Financial Advice Married Couples May Not Want to Hear”)
A Few Random Money Pointers:
• “Have monthly spending allowances. I’m a firm believer in couples having what Deacon likes to call ‘girl/guy money’ allowances each month. Allowing spouses to each have some play money every month gives marriage partners some financial freedom that allows them to spend some money without having to share every purchase detail with their spouse. A key to success with monthly allowances is to be sure the monthly spending allowance amounts dictated in your budget are agreeable to both marriage partners.” (Laurie Blank in the article, “10 Keys to Managing Money Successfully in Marriage”)
This what we have done in recent years. This gives us both enough freedom that we don’t feel micro-managed financially by each other. And yet, it keeps us on track to stay within our budget.
• “Give careful thought and prayer before taking money from your in-laws. Whilst some will have your best interests at heart, it might come with strings attached. It could have a divisive effect on a marriage. I am not saying don’t accept help from in-laws, I am simply saying exercise caution before you do.” (From the Wealthwithpurpose.com article, “Financial Tips for Married Couples”)
The same can apply to giving money to your in-laws. We’ve seen this issue divide many wonderful couples because of the problems it can bring. This is especially true if both spouses aren’t in agreement about giving or lending the money to family members. Keep in mind: “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” And that includes allowing money problems with in laws to divide you as a husband and wife.
Additional Money Pointers:
• “Decide together how to budget for the things your children need. But what about all of their pesky wants? Discuss the possibility of establishing chores and a commission (or allowance) for the work they do. This can help them establish a great work ethic all while teaching them how important it is to wait for the things you want in life!” (From the Daveramsey.com web site article, “The Truth About Money and Relationships”)
• “There is no such thing as a money problem. What looks like money trouble in marriage is almost always symptomatic about of something else: a distorted view of money, lack of understanding about the true purpose for marriage, or a basic inability to integrate the two and communicate effectively with your spouse about finances.” (Ron and Judy Blue, from: “Money Talks and So Can We”)
Please don’t discount the importance of taking these money pointers and the underlying problems seriously.
The following is a good money tip to remember if you have already gotten yourselves into debt. It’s the step-by-step principle:
• “The best way to get out of debt is little by little. But this process requires discipline. It almost always means changing your lifestyle and reordering your priorities. Unfortunately, there is no easier or less painful way out.” (From the book, “The Christian’s Guide to Worry-free Money Management” by Daniel Busby, Kent Barber, and Robert Temple)
Here are two great money pointers for your Christmas shopping given by financial expert, Dave Ramsey:
• “Buy for the Future: If any outrageous sale is going on and if you are getting amazing discounts, you can buy something that you may need just 2 to 3 months before Christmas. That time the price will be increased. So, it’s better if you can save now. Use coupons to save even more.
• “Don’t Forget the Meaning of This Celebration: Remember Christmas is not just about shopping and gifts. The main theme of the day is to celebrate Jesus’ birth.” (These tips are compiled by Silas & Grace, featured in their article, “10 Dave Ramsey Money Saving Tips for Christmas”)
Dave’s Christmas shopping tip is one that we take advantage of every year. We put together Christmas boxes for underprivileged children each year but I look for special deals on items to put into those boxes throughout the year. That way the children get great gifts (more than we could normally afford) and we get them at great prices. It’s a win/win for all of us.
But even more important is the second tip that Dave Ramsey gave. Lets not forget why we’re giving each other gifts in the first place. We’re celebrating the birth of Jesus. Our focus should be on Him—not gift giving or receiving.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
We talk a lot about a variety of marriage issues and even more money pointers in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself (It’s available both electronically and in print form). Just click on the linked title or the “Now Available” picture below to do so:
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