MONEY. It can be a very touchy and often stressful subject. Especially within our marriages. Without realizing it, we all walk down the aisle with a certain set of ideas about money. If we are in disagreement with our husbands on the management of our finances, it can effect so many facets of our relationship. The truth is that it can have the power to make or break our marriages, so we have important choices to make.
I am hoping to share some ideas that may be helpful. Every family has dynamics that have to be considered. It’s important to have good communication and be in agreement with your husband on money matters. That can take some time to process together, but it’s worth it!
I am really no expert, but after 24 years of marriage and 8 children on a single income, there are a few basic principles we have learned that have served us well. In our family, my husband and I consider everyone’s needs together and I usually leave the final decisions to him.
For starters, pray, sit down with your husband and talk about how to budget within the limits of your income. In other words, DON’T SPEND MORE THAN YOU MAKE. When our finances whirled out of control at one point, we had to step back and re-think our habits. We needed to be intentional about our spending. We started by taking our monthly income, subtracting costs of living like house payment or rent, average power/gas bill, phone bill, and life/health/car insurance. Then with what was left we budgeted out areas of groceries(including TP, toothpaste, etc) gas for the cars, entertainment, clothing, car repairs, etc. We labeled envelopes and put cash in each one for each area. Sometimes I even wrote down everything I spent on the outside of the envelope and put the receipts inside so I would be very conscious of where the money was going. If at all possible, try to keep anything that’s left over in a savings account. Even building a tiny bit at a time can make a difference over the long run.
Another money saver is making as many of your meals from scratch as you can. They don’t have to be gourmet, just simple meals. This can actually be great for your health as well. Dinners such as a small serving of meat, a couple vegetables and potatoes or some yummy bread are both nutritious and economical. I often mix chicken or turkey cooked and cut into bite site pieces or fried hamburger to a combination of cooked rice or potatoes and 2 or three seasonal veggies sauteed. When you put it all together as one dish, with some tasty herbs and spices, you can really stretch the meat aspect of the meal, which is usually the most costly. Home made soups are also very economical. Oatmeal, breakfast casseroles and pancakes from scratch are all cost effective breakfasts.
Clothes shopping on a budget can be challenging, but fun at the same time! I want our kids to be well kept and somewhat fashionable, but it requires some thought and a little planning. Keep a running list handy of what the family needs are. I love to yard sale off and on from spring until fall. You can use newspaper ads or Craigslist to help you decide which ones you will go to first, depending if what the yard sales are advertising is actually what you are looking for. I frequent thrift shops and kid’s consignment shops. Also shopping clearance racks and “off” season can bring some amazingly low prices for clothes and shoes! When the kids were all little, some of this was almost impossible, but I never turned hand-me-downs away and word got around. One time we were lacking several items for the kids and I prayed about it because I couldn’t really get out to shop for them. Soon after, I came home to several bags of clothes on my front porch with most of the things we needed in them! I still don’t know who they came from!
As we faced many different financial strains over the years, I have had to learn to make it a point to let my husband know that I am FOR him. I try to take the time to thank him daily for his hard work and for providing for us. Our husbands shoulder a heavy burden and honestly, we probably couldn’t thank them too often. And when things aren’t going well, I have to work extra hard to make what we have “enough” ( a combination of stewardship and contentment) but also to continue to verbalize what I’m thankful for. It’s so important let him know that we are on his side and willing to do what we can to be good stewards of what we’ve been given, no matter how little. I can’t tell you what a boost this will be to your man. It builds SO much trust, confidence and love into your marriage.
When it comes to our kids, we can often feel guilty quickly. Guilty that we aren’t giving them the “best”. The truth is that as we live out a life of good stewardship and learning to trust and depend on God with our finances, our children see faith being lived out. This is a far greater gift than money can buy. You are giving them a real, sovereign and powerful God. And that will benefit them in ALL areas of life.
Remember, God works everything out for our good and His glory…wherever you are in your financial journey. He numbers the hairs on our heads and nothing is out of His control. Life is messy, but He watches over us. Ask Him for wisdom along the way. He promises in James that He WILL give it to you if you believe. Moms, you CAN trust Him.
“I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content–whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” Philippians 4:12