Mark watched Mary stomp out the door and shook his head. She was such a rebellious wife. And, she certainly didn't trust God to take care of them.
Financial decisions can be emotional. When we make these decisions with our spouse, we find ourselves with two completely different perspectives. How can we make wise financial decisions?
Moral decisions are based on right and wrong. We chose to obey God or disobey God. We can rationalize choosing the wrong, but it is still wrong and deep inside we know it. The Bible teaches us to work hard, avoid debt, store money away for the future, tithe, give generously to the poor, and take care of the financial needs of their families.
Deciding between working hard or being lazy is a moral decision. The decision to go into debt for new furniture or save up for it is a moral decision. Another moral choice would be tithing or not tithing.
For some of us, moral decisions are easy. For other Christians, there can be a struggle between right and wrong. Let's make a choice to read the Bible and obey it! This will make moral financial decisions easy.
Should I have my Quiet Time or should I work on my Take, Root, and Write article? Will I put the tax refund toward a new washing machine or a family vacation? Can I afford to work overtime at the cost of time away from my family?
What are your priorities in life? What are your financial priorities? Here is an example of financial priorities.
- Saving for Retirement
- Pay Bills
- Pay Extra Money on Mortgage (to help pay off loan early)
- Our Children's Education
- Save for Cars, Appliances, College, Vacations, Car Repairs, Clothing, and Other Needs
- Giving to Friends Who are Struggling Financially
- Entertainment/Eating Out
It is easy to feel confused when we are suddenly faced with a financial decision. But, we prevent this confusion by sticking to a budget. A budget is a practical plan to make your priorities happen. If you have a paycheck that is the same each week or month, a budget is fairly easy to make, though a little harder for most of us to stick to. If your income varies, then making a budget will be more challenging. But whatever your financial situation, make a budget and stick to it!
When faced with a decision, you just check your budget and see if there is money to do it.
Most of my monthly homeschool budget goes to classic books or historical fiction. Only a small part goes to curriculum. When I come across a book or DVD I have to have, I make myself check my budget. Is there money to buy this book or DVD? Do I have other expenses coming up? This is so hard for me because I LOVE books! How can I wait? Oh boy, does my homeschool budget feel like a noose around my neck sometimes. But truthfully, it has helped me avoid mistakes. My budget dictates my financial decisions.
A budget will put the breaks on impulsive decisions because all spending is based on your budget. Some people budget in money each month to spend however they choose to spend it. This allows some flexibility for those of you who must spend impulsively.
The Habit of Prayer
Often, we don't pray about our finances until we are in crisis mode or need to make a big decision. Mike and I found early in our married life that talking about budgets and other financial things was a stressful discussion. We ended up being mean to each other while we figured out how to handle different financial challenges. We realized we only talked together about finances when we were facing stressful challenges. So, we decided to make a budget in a nice restaurant and keeping the conversation positive and pleasant. It worked!
We entered a new place in our marriage. We started a new habit of talking about finances regularly instead of waiting for disaster to strike. We also began to pray together for our finances, goals, and budget. We cultivated a habit of praying and chatting about finances.
Praying and Fasting to Make Decisions
When we are at an impasse with our spouse on a financial decision, set aside a day of fasting and prayer together.
While Mike was in seminary, we ran out of money. We had several options--one was starting a lawn business. This required spending the rest of our savings, a stressful and scary decision. We set aside time to fast and pray together.
Because we had set aside time to fast and pray, we both felt a personal conviction about the decision to start a business. We did not feel that our spouse had "talked us into the decision" or manipulated us in any way. Believe it or not, we have felt that way in other situations. It is easy when you make a decision together and then it does not go well, to blame your husband or for him to blame you. But, praying and fasting together takes you into God's heart for your finances, rather than your own plans. Consider this wonderful way of making decisions.
Life is full of decisions and the quality of our lives is based on the decisions that we make. The same is true in our financial life.
Be blessed in every decision you make!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)