Don’t you sometimes think that if you just had more money, then your life and marriage would be so much happier? More money = less arguing about how to spend it, right? Plenty of money means no need for budgeting, you simply just buy whatever you want when you want it.
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I hate to burst your money bubble (and don’t take offense because I am bursting my own bubble too), but no matter how much money we have, God calls us to be good stewards. Being a good steward means that we should “carefully and responsibly manage what He has entrusted to us”—be it money, children, our time, our talents, etc. We are called to be good stewards of both our money and marriage.
Budgeting and making responsible financial decisions applies to all of us, regardless of our income level. So, even if you started having money fall from the heavens, God will still expect you to use it wisely with temperance and generosity.
Finding financial happiness within your marriage takes effort, understanding, and a forgiving heart, but it is completely achievable. Your money and marriage efforts to be good stewards and to team up with your spouse in creating and maintaining a solid financial plan/routine will be blessed ten-fold by God.
Are you ready to jump in? Let’s do this!!!
The following 9 steps to find financial happiness in your marriage are at your fingertips!
1. Have a Conversation
When you speak about your money and marriage, always set the stage for success. Set aside a time when you both are fresh, focused, and with little to no distractions. If emotions are running high, consider putting the conversation off until both of you have had time to calm down.
2. Be Honest
Commit to being honest with your feelings, weaknesses, and expectations.
3. Practice Respect
Chances are you each come from different financial backgrounds and with different money management habits. Avoid at all costs using a judgemental or condescending tone with your spouse. Remember, we all have our strengths and weaknesses and just because some money management decisions are not productive, it does not mean we are incapable of improving. Can you tell by now I am the one in our marriage that has the room for most improvement in my money management strategies?
4. Write Down Personal Financial Goals
Write down and discuss each of your own financial fears, goals, and dreams. Be unabashed and completely honest with yourself and your spouse. You may discover that you have a financial fear that you did not even realize is influencing your current money management actions or spending habits.
5. Together Decide on Financial Priorities
Together, decide and prioritize your financial long and short-term goals. Ok, this may not be an easy one, guys. It will require you to have an open mind and to consult The Big Man Upstairs. We can easily forget about God’s plan for us when we are prioritizing our financial goals in life. Our money and marriage goals are driven by our core beliefs on how we live out our lives. Financial planning can seem like all numbers and logic and therefore not need a consultation with the Lord’s plan for us.
6. Create Action Plan
Make a concrete action plan for how you will meet those goals. Okay, brace yourself, I am about to use the “B” word—budget. This is where the importance of a budget comes in no matter what your income level is. Natalie Bacon has a wealth (pun intended) of information on her website, nataliebacon.com One of my favorite articles to get started on creating a budget is this one, How to Trick Yourself into Sticking to Your Budget.
I also love Dave Ramsey. He has a great breakdown of what percentage of your income should be used for each type of living expense.
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” –Dave Ramsey
7. Monitor Progress
Meet regularly to assess your progress. I like the idea of monthly meetings because frankly we don’t really have time for more than that and it gives us an easy measure to then compare with future months. Some financial experts recommend meeting weekly to discuss progress and setbacks. I think based on your individual circumstances you can make the choice that is best for you. Be transparent and honest in these meetings or else you will defeat the purpose. Do not hide purchases you have made to avoid conflict or disappointing your spouse. Celebrate the small successes and realize that you, your spouse, your marriage, and your finances are works in progress. It will never be perfect but you should always strive for improvement in money and marriage.
8. Re-evaluate Action Plan Periodically
After assessing your progress and/or your areas that need improvement, again work together in deciding and implementing modifications needed to continue on your path to financial success. At all costs, refrain from assigning blame.
9. Trust in God's Providence
Trust in God’s providence. If you are actively seeking and praying about how God wants you to handle your finances, you will be reminded that we are just human and we cannot accomplish financial happiness on our own. You must have faith that He will provide.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing.” Matthew 6:25
However, beware of going to the extreme, putting no effort into your financial success and “testing” God to see if he will provide. I like to use the following example when I talk to my kids about this. ‘You should trust in God always, but that does not mean He wants you to go out in the middle of a highway with a Mack truck heading towards you, throw up your hands and say, “I trust in God so completely that I don’t think this Mack truck will kill me if it is not in God’s will.” ‘ That is crossing the line and testing God.
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Matthew 4:7
You cannot in good conscience expect God to do all of the work for you. You need to do your best and He will “fill in the gaps.”
Once you have a successful financial plan in place, you still need to prepare for circumstances to change because the need for reassessment will inevitably arise. But if you come together regularly and pray that God may show you the path He wants you to follow in regards to money and marriage, you will be able to accept and work through even the most tremendous challenges.
And, as always, He will have treasure waiting for you on the other side of that challenge!
Be honest, that makes you feel a little relieved, right? Be comforted that you don’t have to make this all happen on your own.
Since financial stress is one of the most common and major strains on a marriage, if you can find money and marriage happiness, you will experience fruits in all aspects of your marriage.
I would love to hear from you! Do you have any tried and true tips on marriage and money?