Wisdom for Wives

"Be diligent to know the state of your flocks …"

Where is Your Treasure (Re-post)

[On this last day of the blogiversary month, let’s take one more stroll down memory lane and search the depths of our hearts.]

Map:  X marks the spot

image credit: happilyeverafterinvesting.com

Last week, I suggested keeping track of your spending as a possible first step to becoming more involved in managing the family’s finances. And I am taking this step myself, since I know I need to be more conscious of my spending, especially on food, which is what I buy most. Sure, food is important. Food is essential. It is a blessing from God to be enjoyed. But it’s a little embarrassing to see how many times some purveyor or another of French fries appears on my bank statement. What does that say about me? I have heard more than one pastor say that you can tell a person’s priorities by looking at his or her checkbook. This seems to be supported by Scripture.

~~But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21-22, NASB)~~

Maybe that’s why it can be so difficult to discuss finances with our spouses. Maybe these conversations reveal the true conditions of our hearts, and who wants to talk about the true condition of our hearts?? It’s quite possible that when there are unresolved heart issues, money arguments aren’t really about money. One spouse wants to discuss a budget, the other one fears being controlled. Four little words like, “We’re short this month,” can really mean:

You don’t make enough.
You spend too much.
You shouldn’t have taken (or quit) that job.
It’s because you wanted to buy this house that we can’t afford.

Even if the speaker is not (knowingly) holding a secret grudge, the hearer could be filtering the words through insecurities about his/her earning potential, or lingering regret or shame over a financial mistake for which the family is still paying. Rather than churn up all these issues, it is easier (in the short-term) to avoid talking about money, or to just ignore it altogether.

My husband and I have both had to admit money-related mistakes, and confess resentment we’ve held for the other’s actions or inaction. Some things were acknowledged long ago and now we laugh about them, others have been revealed only in recent months. These feelings were not easy to admit. But even after we have received the Lord’s forgiveness, sometimes we need to “confess [our] sins to one another, and pray for one another so that [we] may be healed” (James 5:16a, NASB).

Then again, if money is a difficult topic, maybe it’s not because of unconfessed bitterness against our spouses. The conflict and tension could reveal an even deeper issue. Just between us and God.

If we sought the Lord for comfort, would we call out to Him instead of trying to eat or spend our way out of sadness?
If we truly trusted God as our source, would we be less tempted to try to control our spouse’s behavior?
If we were content with what He’s already given us, would we put less pressure on our spouses or ourselves to earn more?

May the Lord help us see what is truly at the heart of these issues, and may the Psalmist’s prayer be ours:

~~Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24, NASB)~~

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5 Reasons to Get Involved in Your Finances

5 Reasons to Get Involved in Your Finances

In the first installment of the 5-5-5 of Finances Series, I talked about reasons why some wives may avoid learning the details of their financial situations. You may have more of your own. But there are at least five reasons why it is worthwhile to “learn the state of your flocks.”

Your Husband
~~The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:11-12)~~
Relationship dynamics and division of labor are different for every married couple. But whether you both bring in an income, or one of you does all of the earning, you are partners in life. Even if your husband writes all of the checks, managing the family’s finances doesn’t have to be a burden that he bears entirely alone. He may not even view this task as a burden, but there may be many ways that your talents and abilities could bless your husband in this area. If you have a careful eye for detail, you can catch erroneous charges on your bank statement. If you are an organizing maven, you could put those powers to use on the stack of bills (but maybe don’t “surprise” your husband with a brand new filing system without discussing it). Or you might have great ideas for saving money, bringing some in, or getting out of debt.

There may not be a need for you to do anything differently.  After all, there only has to be one bookkeeper.  But simply understanding the details your financial situation could help you gain your husband’s perspective on things. Now, it’s true that you two could look at the same set of numbers and draw different conclusions (as is sometimes the case in my house). But such knowledge may help you better appreciate your husband’s efforts to care for the family. In other words, knowing the financial score may help you to be a better cheerleader.

Furthermore, your husband might find comfort in knowing that if he were unable to manage the finances, either temporarily (due to illness or military deployment, for example) or permanently (may you both have long healthy lives!), you would know what to do.

Getting involved is not about whether you trust your husband’s ability or integrity; may they be above reproach. But don’t discount your own ability to provide moral support, practical support, or both.

Your Children
~~Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).~~
Having more money doesn’t make you a better parent, but your children would be the beneficiaries if your involvement improved your financial situation. And they would benefit from your ability to handle the bills if you ever had to do that alone.  You also have an opportunity to model good stewardship for your sons and your daughters. As they watch you, they can learn precious lessons about careful saving, thoughtful spending, generous giving, living on a budget, and being content—lessons for a lifetime. And if your children are anything like mine, they will turn right around and start teaching you! It happened in our family when we became more conscious of our food spending. The kids went from wanting a treat every time we got in the car, to reminding the parents about the budget when we wanted to order pizza. The nerve!  (Don’t worry, they still ask for treats 🙂 ).

To me, the most vital lesson my children are learning is that it’s never too late to change. We ought to continue learning and growing no matter how old we get.

Your Neighbor
~~John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry” (John 3:11).~~
Do you wish your family were able to give more to your local church? Are there missionaries or causes that you’d like to support more generously? Do you have big dreams for serving, but don’t think your family can afford them?

Maybe you can afford them. Perhaps, with some adjustments to the food budget, you could set aside some of your weekly groceries for a local food pantry. Maybe you can be the one to find some extra money each month to sponsor a child in need.  And every dollar that no longer goes to repaying debt is a dollar that can potentially bless someone else.  Is it possible that through your prayers, changes that you could initiate and encourage, your family could give more generously?

Yourself
~~Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds (Proverbs 27:23).~~
You are a great reason to take an interest in the family finances. After all, it’s your money, too! Regardless of who earns it. And it’s not selfish to take care of your stuff and plan for the future. Actually, it’s God’s stuff, entrusted to us for faithful stewardship, which includes knowing what’s going on with it. And, the commandments for stewardship apply to the single and married, male and female. Besides, anything with your name on it—tax returns, mortgage, lines of credit, etc.—is yours as far as the creditors are concerned. They do not care how little you know, only how much you owe.

And believe it or not, setting a budget can be liberating in a way. Once you have agreed on how much to spend on particular categories (granted, that is the hard part), you don’t have to wonder whether you’re spending too much on clothes for the kids, or whether you can afford to splurge on groceries this week. If it’s in the budget (and the Lord isn’t telling you otherwise), then you can!

Jesus
~~So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless (1 Corinthians 15:58).~~
Becoming more aware of your financial situation might improve communication and promote understanding in your marriage. It could lead to more generous giving, or setting aside more for retirement, or your kids’ education.

Or not.

None of those things are guaranteed.

But where we do have assurance, is that if we seek wisdom in faith, the Lord will supply it generously (James 1:5). If we trust Him, He will direct us (Proverbs 3:5-6). If we seek first His righteousness—in all areas—He will take care of the rest (Matthew 6:33). And if our motivation in managing our money is to serve our families, bless our neighbors, and faithfully steward His blessings, our efforts will not be wasted.

Stewardship may not look the same for every wife, but if we ask the Lord how to do it, He will show us. And I will have a few suggestions next week, in the final installment of the 5-5-5 series.

Thank you for stopping by,
Susan

4 Comments »

Where Is Your Treasure?

Map:  X marks the spot

image credit: happilyeverafterinvesting.com


Last week
, I suggested keeping track of your spending as a possible first step to becoming more involved in managing the family’s finances. And I am taking this step myself, since I know I need to be more conscious of my spending, especially on food, which is what I buy most. Sure, food is important. Food is essential. It is a blessing from God to be enjoyed. But it’s a little embarrassing to see how many times some purveyor or another of French fries appears on my bank statement. What does that say about me? I have heard more than one pastor say that you can tell a person’s priorities by looking at his or her checkbook. This seems to be supported by Scripture.

~~But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21-22, NASB)~~

Maybe that’s why it can be so difficult to discuss finances with our spouses. Maybe these conversations reveal the true conditions of our hearts, and who wants to talk about the true condition of our hearts?? It’s quite possible that when there are unresolved heart issues, money arguments aren’t really about money. One spouse wants to discuss a budget, the other one fears being controlled. Four little words like, “We’re short this month,” can really mean:

You don’t make enough.
You spend too much.
You shouldn’t have taken (or quit) that job.
It’s because you wanted to buy this house that we can’t afford.

Even if the speaker is not (knowingly) holding a secret grudge, the hearer could be filtering the words through insecurities about his/her earning potential, or lingering regret or shame over a financial mistake for which the family is still paying. Rather than churn up all these issues, it is easier (in the short-term) to avoid talking about money, or to just ignore it altogether.

My husband and I have both had to admit money-related mistakes, and confess resentment we’ve held for the other’s actions or inaction. Some things were acknowledged long ago and now we laugh about them, others have been revealed only in recent months. These feelings were not easy to admit. But even after we have received the Lord’s forgiveness, sometimes we need to “confess [our] sins to one another, and pray for one another so that [we] may be healed” (James 5:16a, NASB).

Then again, if money is a difficult topic, maybe it’s not because of unconfessed bitterness against our spouses. The conflict and tension could reveal an even deeper issue. Just between us and God.

If we sought the Lord for comfort, would we call out to Him instead of trying to eat or spend our way out of sadness?
If we truly trusted God as our source, would we be less tempted to try to control our spouse’s behavior?
If we were content with what He’s already given us, would we put less pressure on our spouses or ourselves to earn more?

May the Lord help us see what is truly at the heart of these issues, and may the Psalmist’s prayer be ours:

~~Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24, NASB)~~

22 Comments »

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