By Kimberly Earnest
Kimberly Earnest is the Financial Wellness Specialist at Veterans United Home Loans, helping folks become more intentional with their money and reaching their financial goals is what she’s passionate about. She and her husband Brad love to run, bike, and travel. Reach out to Kimberly if you want to talk fitness or finance, she loves both!
Money fights and money problems are the leading cause of divorce in North America. That’s a scary statistic but the truth is money is tough and when you talk about it in the context of marriage (two different people that have two different personalities who grew up in two different households trying to figure out a single way to do money together as a family), it can be even more challenging. But what if instead of being a statistic you actually use finances to strengthen your marriage?
Getting on the same page financially with your spouse can build trust, be a way to show respect to each other and enhance your marriage. There are two steps to doing this. The first is to have a discussion about what your family’s goals and values are. Do you want one parent to be able to stay at home with kids, work less overtime or just not be so stressed out about money? Do you want to be able to give to causes and people that are important to you? Do you want to be able to take vacations together to create life-long memories? If money were not an issue, how do you want to be spending your time together as a family?
The second step is to write a family budget. Many people hear the word budget and start to cringe. But a budget is merely a plan for your money. It’s being intentional about how you live out your values as a family and a blueprint on how to reach your goals. It’s been said before “Show me your calendar and your checkbook and I’ll show you what is most important to you.” While many of us rarely still use a checkbook, you want to make sure the way you are spending your time and your money aligns with what is meaningful to you and your family.
The Bible talks about money more than any other subject so you can bet there are some amazing nuggets of wisdom in there about how God can help you handle money better. Here are a few.
Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Debt can feel debilitating when all of your income goes out in payments each month. This can often lead to money fights in a marriage. A budget can help you prioritize and come up with a plan to pay off debt and become free of that burden. When you work on a big financial goal such as paying off debt together, you realize that together you can achieve so much more than you ever could as one.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 further reinforces this: “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.” There is a synergistic effect when two people work on their financial goals together. You will be amazed at what you can achieve.
Proverbs 13:16 says “A wise man thinks ahead, a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it.” Budgeting can help you plan ahead for those upcoming expected expenses (like personal property taxes and Christmas) and, by having an emergency fund, you are prepared for those unexpected expenses. More planning = less stress = less fighting = more peace and a happier marriage.
Phillippians 4:11 says “for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Throughout your marriage, you will have ups and downs. You’ll have seasons of life where things are going to be tough and money is tight and seasons where you feel like the money is flowing. By learning to live within your means, with the help of using a budget, you learn how to be content with your life and your marriage in all circumstances.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says ‘Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” There are only three things you can do with money- Save it, Spend it or Give it. If you don’t include Giving in your budget, I would highly recommend that you start doing this. This can be one of the most fun things you can do with your spouse and it helps reinforce aligning those family values with how you use money.
How do you get started doing a budget together as a couple? I’ll be presenting a Marriage Budgeting Workshop, along with my husband Brad, in the Marriage Matters Ministry at Forum Christian Church on Saturday, March 20 from 2 to 4pm. We’ll talk about the logistics of creating and following a budget together and the amazing things it can do for your marriage. For more information please see the flyer below. Thanks!