Monday, August 14, 2017

The Words You're Probably Avoiding

Finances. Budgets. Bills. These are words most couples dread, right?

Usually Howell is the one to blog about money (this one is my fav), but it’s been on my heart this week, so I wanted to share a few principles we follow that I believe bring peace to this area in our marriage.

1. Tithe. If you’re on the fence about tithing, I can promise you it’s worth it to be obedient to the Lord. When we follow His word and do as He asks, abundant blessing follows. Our first couple years of marriage, our combined income was below the poverty level of a single-income household, and yet, we followed this principal of giving 10% of our income to the Lord (i.e. to our church home)—and we never went without. God has always provided everything we need.

We’ve always had the mindset that everything we own is God’s, and from the very beginning, we’d ask him, what do you want us to do with your money? Pay bills, of course. Provide for ourselves. But what else?

We both come from families who are “givers.” What does that mean? It usually means the family tithes—but in our case, we also watched our parents give generous gifts, sometimes to support monthly ministries, sometimes to give one-time gifts to the church for a project, sometimes to give extravagantly to those in need.

My dad used to tell me, even as a young girl, “You can’t out-give God.” How incredibly true! That first year of marriage, on our little income, we not only tithed, but we prayerfully considered giving to specific ministries every month. At first, we couldn’t give much, but as we were diligent to give away the little that we had, God quickly and immeasurably provided a blessing in return. With every raise we’ve ever had, our question has always been—Okay, God? How much and where to?

2. Save. Since I’ve already ball-parked our early income for you, I’ll go ahead and share that we saved enough for a down payment to buy a house within one year of being married on an income that certainly felt teeny-tiny. Want to know how? We save 10% of our income each month. 10%--that’s all. Give 10, Save 10.

We’ve been supernaturally rewarded by being stewards of our money in this way. We’ve been married 9 years, and we’ve paid off roughly $90,000 in debt. Today our only debt is our house, which will be paid for in 13 years or less.  I don’t say that to brag—in fact, I felt humbled when I started totaling it all up in preparation for this post. But because I know it’s possible to tackle what might even feel impossible, I want to encourage you: it can be done!

3. Mutually submit. We get paid twice a month, and we immediately tithe and save 10%. We do it on the gross income (though we don’t think there’s anything wrong doing it the other way), so we’re a little more stretched. What’s left after that is the money we live on and the money we give away.

Howell’s emphasized budgeting, and we live by his cute little spreadsheet (love ya, babe :)), so we know when it’s all spent on bills or giving, this is what we’ve got left to spend (gas, food, entertainment, etc.).

So what do I mean by mutually submit? Every couple has a spender and saver—and sometimes to more or less varying degrees. Whether you’re one or the other, remember that every financial choice you make affects your spouse. You’re communicating love and respect by how you spend your money (or by what you withhold in spending).

If your spouse has asked you not to purchase something or to be conscious of the “leftover” money this month, then honoring that amount is the way you honor him or her.

And I believe the Lord blesses us, not only when we honor each other with our spending but when we honor Him with our money as well.

I know money isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but I hope you’ll be encouraged this week. If your bills feel too high, if your savings feels too low—begin to ask the Lord how He wants you to steward your money (and then be obedient! :)).

His word is true. Psalm 23 begins, “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not lack.”

Believe that, my friends. He will always provide for you!

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