The Roadmap and Becoming Unified in Your Approach
With most projects, a plan is beneficial to see your goals, where you are in achieving those goals, and what you need to do to get from point A to point B. Personal financial stewardship is no different.
In a building, you need to start with a foundation, which is a strong mass of concrete to rest everything you are creating. Building a secure financial future is no different. You need a strong foundation to build upon. This foundation starts with a strong commitment to self-reliance. This commitment, however is resting on something deeper, unity with your spouse. If she is not on the same page, all the commitment in the world will end to no avail, and will probably end in resentment in your marriage. This unity should be built on an underlying bedrock of faith. Having that trust in the Lord will enable us to make and keep those decisions necessary to create a strong future. If you have the faith, your wife will have the faith, and you two will come to a unified approach.
I am not talking specifically about happy-clappy hallelujah type faith. Exercise the faith in order to put the effort into your education, your career, or be willing to jump into a project with both feet. It was a difficult decision for me to go into Engineering. I knew it would take money, time, and effort to get to where I am today. But, I took that leap and did it. I suppose I could have failed, but still it would have done me good and I would have reaped some rewards.
If you are in a dependent situation, relying on your parents, welfare, or others, have the faith to break those chains of dependence and make it out there on your own. You should trust on those closest to you first. First, have faith in yourself. If you cannot support yourself, how can you support others? Second, trust in your immediate family, they are directly affected by your temporal situation, and so will be most interested in you improving yourself. Then, parents and extended family, then church, then local community welfare, then if all those are exhausted there is national welfare. The closer you are to the source of help, the more directly interested they are in your situation, and the less entitled your attitude will be.
One of the more common ways marriages are destroyed is through financial reasons. Husband and wife often come from different financial backgrounds, which can cause destructive attitudes towards the marriage. One might be a tightwad, the other may spend money like it is water.
Marvin J. Ashton taught, “Management of family finances should be mutual between husband and wife in an attitude of openness and trust. Control of the money by one spouse as a source of power and authority causes inequality in the marriage and is inappropriate. Conversely, if a marriage partner voluntarily removes himself or herself entirely from family financial management, there is an abdication of necessary responsibility”.
The trick is to figure out a system of checks and balances in which the two of you agree and follow. My wife and I have had a joint banking account since we married. For some time, we would do it where my wife would pay the bills, I would balance the checkbook monthly and we would track and budget the money together. If there was any purchases more than $100 or so, we would discuss beforehand. That worked, but going through it only monthly made a problem as some receipts were lost. Statements like “Walmart, $53.96” mean little several weeks out, is that groceries, clothes, home repair, or car parts? We also tried having only me take care of the bills. This worked, except after a few months, my wife started to feel out of the loop, and uneasy about out financial situation, even though we were doing fine.
Now, we are doing a more unified approach where we go through finances and budgeting nightly, looking at things jointly and coming up with mutual situations. Although it takes a little more time (5-10 minutes daily), it does create a more unified, solid approach. Maybe in a year, I will comment on how it is going.
Strong financial responsibility is vital to a healthy marriage. Choose someone who is good at not spending money. If you marry a money waster, resentment will inevitably rise as she is wasting the fruits of your labor on crap.
If you were thrown off by the homework assignment in the last financial article, get used to it. Last time, I asked you to log your expenses. I am still asking you to do so. Hopefully, by now, you have a fairly organized method, and it does not take too much time.
This week, I am asking you one more thing: Hold a regular (weekly) family council in which you discuss matters as they arise. Knowing what is planned for the near future, budgeting time and money is an important step in creating unity in your marriage and family life. Once a week, take a few minutes as a couple or family and discuss upcoming events, upcoming expenses, possible purchases, resolve conflicts in an unheated manner, or any other matters that you feel is pertinent to the general needs of your family.