Thursday, March 09, 2006by Twinklemoose
When it comes to managing our family finances, there are many traps that Christians can fall into. We should learn from our mistakes and not weaken our testimony by repeating them endlessly. In our home, I am the "financial minister" - a title which I relish! I am fascinated by banking, investments and all things related to money - and my husband most certainly is not. As long as he knows there is enough in the bank to pay the bills and still buy himself a bag of candy at the end of the week, he is a happy man.
Although I truly enjoy managing money, I am not particularly good at it, and have made all of the mistakes that are there to be made. However, I am slowly gaining wisdom in this area, for which I am thankful. I am not sure if my husband is thankful for my increasing wisdom or not - he gets less and less candy the wiser I become!
First, we need to have our priorities right:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Mat. 6:24
But how should we interpret:
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Is he saying we should not lay aside money ever for anything? I would say no, he can't be saying that, but that we shouldn't be anxious about it. If you have a job that gives you XXX dollars every month, and that is enough to pay for a roof over your head and something to eat for the whole month, then you are responsible to handle that money so that these things are supplied. You are irresponsible if you rely on others at the end of the month. I will note here that perhaps in the past, relying on others would have had a greater stigma attached to it. No one wants to call their mommy and daddy for a loan because they have been foolish with their money. However, it is not so hard to take a little loan from Mr. MasterCard when something unforeseen comes up.
Now, most people, including generous hearted Christians understand that they need to keep enough money to take care of their own needs from month to month. However, we tend to fail when it comes to needs that are less frequent. We do not put aside enough money to pay for car repairs and new boots and summer camp. When these things come along, we throw up our hands in despair. There is no reason for these things to be unforeseen. They are very predictable. When you buy a car, you know it will break down. Not the first week or month, perhaps, but some day it will happen. When you buy new boots, they will not last forever and you will one day have to buy boots again. When you plan to go to summer camp with the family, there are going to be expenses attached to that just as there were last year and the year before. We should not be in financial crisis over irregular but predictable expenses.
At one time (not very long ago), our family paid for everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - on credit card. We thought this was very strategic as we were faithful to pay off the whole bill each month and the card has a rewards program where you get points on your purchases towards free things. The only problem was that I had no sense of where all our money was going and no sense of what we could and could not afford to buy. I knew we were definitely overspending because of using the card and not cold hard cash. We always had enough to pay the bill, just. If I got a little bit of extra money from my babysitting job, it would always seem like just what we needed to get by that month. So actually, the Lord was good to us, and there was never any need to be anxious. But I just knew in my heart we were not being good stewards.
In this series, I will relay the things I have learned about budgeting and avoiding credit. Anyone can learn to do this. It is easy and effective.