With the Christmas holiday coming, a lot of people are laying down some serious money to buy their loved ones all kinds of gifts. Sadly, many more are going into serious debt to pay for it later. And pay for it big time they will! That’s why we thought this would be a good time to give you some money tips that if you follow them, can help you, “from this day forward.”
These are money tips that we’ve seen to be tried and true. Some of these tips come from us. Others come from various financial experts. We figure why not go to the experts for the “best of” when you’re looking for help? This first one will pertain to Christmas. But most of the rest of them will apply to most any time of year.
Money Tips for Married Couples
When it comes to holiday savings Ellie Kay (author of the book “How to Save Money Every Day”) gives this tip:
“In the long run, the financial pressure your family experiences is simply not worth the temporary satisfaction of the item that robbed you of your financial freedom.”
That’s what we’ve witnessed. We’ve watched so many couples get themselves into serious debt because they allowed their emotions and society to pressure them to do what they shouldn’t. The tension, and the repercussions just aren’t worth it. We have always limited our spending to a reasonable level. That was difficult when our sons were younger. And now we have grandchildren that tug on our heartstrings. Who wouldn’t want to give them a world of presents? Even so, we’ve never gone into debt with our Christmas spending on them, for each other, or for anyone else.
Actually, a lot of the gifts we gave were mainly homemade ones. I even put together a list of gifts you can give that are homemade. Others are also ones that “won’t break your budget.” A lot of these gift ideas are ones we’ve used. There are also others that came from ideas that other people gave us:
Meaningful Gift Giving
With gift giving, we aimed more for “meaning” than for monetary value. We’re in agreement that monetary value is not an emphasis onto which we want to hold. Christmas is more about celebrating Christ and giving love, rather than spending our “earthly treasure” that God entrusts to us on material things. After all, Jesus gave us more, by coming to this earth to die for our sins, than any monetary amount could ever purchase. And His gift is ours for free, if we just accept it.
Concerning this issue, here’s a great article, which focuses on what you spend while you celebrate Christmas with your loved ones. We highly recommend you read it. As the author, David Mathis, says, “‘Tis the season to test your treasure”:
Additional Money Tips
As we looked around to find money tips for you, almost every article stressed the importance of putting together a budget and sticking to it. We thought of featuring a quote about this point. But seriously, you know you should put together a budget. We don’t have to stress that point. But you may not have thought of these additional money tips relating to staying within a budget:
“Remember the reason you’re budgeting in the first place. Think about the debt you have or the plans you’re trying to make. Go to the bank once per week and withdraw what the budget allots for that week. Don’t return to the bank or ATM until the next week. Only spend what you have. If you have any leftover money at the end of each week, put it in a bank or special envelope and save for a special occasion, purchase or help someone in need. Don’t go to the mall unless you have a specific reason. Only one in four people in the malls are there for a particular purchase.” (Jonni McCoy, from the article, “Frugal Families—Making the Most of Your Hard Earned Money”)
We need to think like managers of God’s money, not owners. Are you and your spouse being good stewards of the money God is entrusting to you to spend? Are you managing it in a way that God would want? Here’s another good question posed by Cynthia Yates we encourage you to ask yourself:
“Do I want my identity to be reduced to my consumer preferences, or do I want my identity to be rooted in Christ?”
Related Scripture to Prayerfully Consider:
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grief’s.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10, NIV)
Additional Related Money Tips
As it pertains to this issue, here are a few thoughts for you to prayerfully ponder:
“Paper currency and coins are not themselves the root of the troubles. It’s the underlying habits and attitudes, or ‘habitudes,’ that drive how those financial instruments are used, or misused, spent or saved. And many people are utterly unaware of their habitudes, attitudes they internalized during the growing-up years. For one, money may represent security. For another it may be about control. And for another, money is the key to power, or freedom.” (James and Audora Burg, from the Sturgis Journal article “Marriage Matters: Copping a ‘Habitude’”)
It’s important to note:
“For many of us money is the mirror that reflects our youthful fantasies and our struggles to make these fantasies come true. …Money becomes a magical screen on which we project our fears, frustration, and dreams. Each of us must search our histories for clues as to why we have the attitudes we do with regard to money.” (Dr David Stoop and Dr Jan Stoop, from the book, “The Complete Marriage Book”)
With That in Mind:
“Discuss your money values. These are the values that have a significant impact on your financial decisions and drive many forms of behavior with money. For example, some people value security. For others it might be freedom, thriftiness, status, identity, generosity and many more. These values may not necessarily be Godly or good values. However, the idea is to identify them so that you can understand why your spouse makes the decisions they do about money. You can then work out if these values need addressing.” (From the Wealthwithpurpose.com article, “Financial Tips for Married Couples”)
“If your spouse responds in a reactive or defensive way when you talk to them about money, it’s important to work together to find out where it’s coming from. Explore these issues in a natural course of conversation. How did their parents approach finances and make decisions regarding money? What were some differences between their family and yours? Maybe there are some deeply embedded beliefs in their mind that get triggered when you bring up the topic, and talking these things through could help you unravel them.
“No matter what, remember that finances are an emotional issue for most couples. But don’t run from the conversation. It’s important to get on the same page with one another to create a shared vision for your future together.” (Drs Les & Leslie Parrott, from their blog, “Finances: Get on the Same Page With Spouse”)
Being “on the same page” as a married couple is important in marriage. You don’t always have to think alike. But you do need to “think together.” And that’s especially important when it comes to money matters. This lines up with the biblical principle put forth for us in Amos 3:3: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (NIV)
We realize that a lot of these “money tips” are more pointers to help you align your thinking. We did this to lay some ground work for next week’s Marriage Insight where we will give you more practical “how to’s” and other suggestions. It’s important that we don’t give you too much at once. If we do, we might send you into information overload. And we sure don’t want to do that.
So for now, we want to leave you with one last money tip, given by financial expert Dave Ramsey:
“Marriage is a partnership. It’s time to stop making money mistakes and find common ground. Sure, it’s tricky to figure out how to not fight about money. But you can learn how to discuss your finances in a more productive way. You married your spouse for a reason. Believe it or not, you need their skills—especially the ones you don’t have. That free spirit or nerd can bring valuable insight and knowledge to the table. They’re your teammate, and it’s time to start treating them like one.” (From the Daveramsey.com web site article, “The Truth About Money and Relationships”)
We pray you do. Check back again next week for more money tips for married couples.
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
We talk a lot about a variety of marriage issues and give many more tips 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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