I had a pastor friend years ago that said there are two main causes of the failure of your marriage: infidelity and finances. I believe as it relates to finances, it’s the stress caused by not adhering to the Biblical admonition in Hebrews 13:5 CSB – “Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.” We all want more! And contentment is a constant struggle and doesn’t come easily. This blog is a sort of summary of what I believe I’ve learned, in my 75 years of life, works where money is concerned.!
Nearly 50 years ago my wife and I returned from military service living in Taiwan but serving in Vietnam. In addition to my military pay, we drew a $500 per month tax exemption, combat pay, and flight pay. And, by American standards, living in Taiwan was inexpensive. We later recalled that we were “living like kings”. But when we returned to the United States, we lost all the special pay and bought a new house and a new car and continued the lifestyle to which we had become accustomed. Six months home and we were a full month’s pay in debt.
Our first solution was to agree to live on a family budget. It took us two months to figure out what our actual expenses were – house payment, utilities, car payment, gas, food, family clothing (we had child #3 there), entertainment, etc. Then I got some ledger paper and began the process of an actual budget – adding funds to each page on payday and subtracting from the appropriate page with every expenditure. And we learned that when friends invited us to go out to eat with them (for example), we didn’t look at the checkbook to see if there were funds; we looked at the entertainment page of the budget to see if there were funds available in that category. It took work, but it was more comfortable in the long run to know that the monthly amounts we’d added to the personal property tax category allowed us to pay the large sum as we’d prepared for it.
We’re Christians. We tithe. It’s the first check we write every month. In Malachi 3:8 God says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, how have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings.” I won’t get into how much is a tithe or offering? I accept II Corinthians 9:7 where it says, “Each person should do as he has decided in his heart – not reluctantly or out of compulsion since God loves a cheerful giver.” God looks at our hearts; work out the amount with Him. But remember that everything we have comes from Him and He wants us to give some back – just because we love Him! We provide everything for our children, but remember how it feels when they give us a gift – just because they want to!!!
Many years ago, I read a very small booklet called (as I remember it) “The richest man in the world.” In summary, it spotlighted the need to have a savings plan to be ready for hard times to come and things that are too big to purchase all at once – like that new motorbike, or a pony, etc. When I was trying to teach this concept to my very young children, I gave them a $1 weekly allowance – as ten dimes. I have a shoebox I’d divided into compartments. Each child put a dime in the top slot marked “tithe”. Every Sunday we took that one out and took it for the offering plate at church; they looked forward to getting to do that. The next slot was a dime for “savings” – and once a month we went to the bank and let them put their 40 cents in a passbook account. They kept the passbook in their rooms. They could watch it grow. The third slot was labeled “something big”. That dime was put in a piggy bank which was emptied each year and we took them shopping for a gift they bought for themselves with the $5 or so they had saved. That was a lot of money for a preschool kid in those days. And it made a point! And our family “something big” has often allowed us to get through a tough patch we hadn’t planned on.
All this assumes “no debt”. Step one if you’ve already “blown it” is to get out of debt. That’s what we did. You can make the debt a budget item that will one day go away. You can take a Dave Ramsey sort of class that teaches you how to get out of debt and stay out of debt.
Actually, the real first step is deciding to live within your means and allow God to bless you for some great unexpected blessing to come! Start today. Learn to be contented with what you have, plan for the future, and use it faithfully. Remember, you can’t take it with you anyway!
- Randy Lee, BSE, MS, ND, is the owner of The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 73130. Call us at (405) 736-1030, and visit our website at www.thehealthpatch.com.