Anniversary Post 1. Sharing ideas and tips from our family in budgeting, tithing and keeping bills organized. Simple and handy information for a family who wants to be good stewards of their finances.
I cannot believe we are celebrating thirteen years of marriage together, feels like we just said our “I do’s”.
There are so many things I wish I would have known at the beginning of our marriage that I know now. So many mistakes that could have been avoided, a lot of unnecessary misunderstandings and shed tears. So I thought I would do a post on things we have learned over the course of thirteen years in hopes that they are a blessing to some else. So many of you gave back feedback for the other personal posts and it’s so humbling that God can use someone as simple as me and take the things God has been teaching me, and speak to your hearts as well. May His name alone be praised, I am nothing but a saved sinner.
If I were to compile everything into one post, you’d be overwhelmed, as would I. So over the next few weeks I will be doing three posts; Post 1) The wise and faithful steward of finances, Post 2) Making a marriage work, Post 3) Keeping the marriage alive, dating your husband.
Before we dig in, please be advised this isn’t me teaching, instructing or giving professional advice. This is just taking what WE have learned over the years and humbly sharing the information so that another family may possibly be blessed by it:).
The wise and faithful steward of finances-
Regardless whether it’s you or your spouse that makes the purchases for the family and pays the bills, have you considered that you may be living outside of your means or not a wise steward of your finances. From experience, we have seen budgeting our family’s income and expenses have made such a difference, and really puts our spending into perspective. I speak about this so passionately because I remember we had no guidance at the beginning of our marriage. Almost everything we learned was from many, many mistakes and no way of knowing how to fix them and we tried over and over until it worked and reading many, many books. If I were to ask you how much of your income goes to coffee runs, groceries, tithing, bills and the list will go on. Can you give me a total for each? Those of you that cannot give a total, let me challenge you!. Take a month and without changing your means of spending, keep each receipt and at the end of the month, calculate the totals. I tell you, you will be shocked at your findings.
We as Christians are called to a unique way of living. Yes, we are to care for our families but when the time comes and we stand before God, things we accumulated over the years won’t mean anything. That’s kind of sad and disappointing in a way. Our clothing, things in our homes, kids’ toys, shoes etc. will mean nothing and not a single item will be taken with us. Of course, we all need to live but when we really strive to put the Kingdom of God first, we see a drastic change in our spending. When we, as a family, decide this is what our family “really” needs, our life becomes less “me and us” centered and more “Christ-centered”. We then have money to give to the poor, the widows, the orphans, the missionaries and all it took was some serious prayers as a family and changing our lifestyles. No, I cannot feed every poor child or support every missionary, that isn’t what I am saying. We can, however, become wise stewards of our income and together as a body of Christ make a difference in the kingdom of God and not accumulate more stuff.
Most importantly, with the way we spend our finances, we are building up the next generation of Godly men and women who will strive to carry on what we have begun. It’s so important for us as parents to show our children that clothing, toys, and anything else of this world will not completely fulfill us. No matter what kind of vehicle I drive, or brand of clothes I wear or the amount of it, none of that will completely satisfy because someone will have something nicer or more of it. Our fulfillment comes in Christ and Christ alone. So when our child from a young age knows that satisfaction doesn’t come from having every desired toy but giving to those that are less fortunate and understanding to live within the will of God is fulfillment, that’s powerful. In the New Testament, it says that Cornelius was devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God as was everyone in his household. He was teaching his children to give, to sacrifice to help. That kind of lifestyle that has less of “me” and more of “Christ”. Can you remember a single outfit, purchase, toy or any other spending from five years ago that means a lot to you now? A few things may come up but it won’t mean a lot, yet so much time is dedicated to shopping and money doing it.
Lastly, when it comes down to it when we see that our spending is what keeps our husbands/ourselves away from our family it is almost heart-wrenching. For me to have an income to pay for that purchase that I truly don’t “need”, it’s almost like I am forcefully sending my spouse out to work, that really puts things into perspective. If I, as a wife, am a wise steward and purchase only what is really necessary, my husband will be home helping me raise our children and be an active father, husband, and member of the church. That’s powerful! When we as a body of Christ will spend less on us, it will inspire other families to make a change. My children will grow up knowing that one less toy, or coffee run, or one less trip to McDonald’s will slowly add up and have daddy at home. Our children begin to not say, mom, I want this toy for my birthday but from a young age when they walk into the store with you, they say daddy, mommy is this in our budget, can we purchase this, or will this keep daddy at work an extra few hours for me to have this unnecessary purchase. It changes our mindset. I cannot tell you a single outfit from 5 years ago I truly find fulfilling in now, and what I spend on today will mean little in 5 years from today. But having my spouse at home helping raise my children, doing things together as a family, supporting God’s people will impact not only me or my husband but build up children who will be wise stewards of their money and warriors for the Kingdom of God. The more children hear this isn’t what we need now, the more accustomed they become to the idea and it becomes who we are as a family. It becomes their lifestyles as well, one they will continue with their family.
Oh man, I could write a book on this one! God blesses our families with so much more than any of us deserve. I heard a phenomenal discussion the importance of spending/tithing. The speaker said, yes, we read that tithing is 10% of our income and I completely agree, but I want to give you a different perspective. Giving 10% is almost an obligation, God is looking at your heart and asking what are you doing with the 90% you have leftover. I remember hearing that and for weeks it was on my and my spouse’s heart. It rang so true and it was during this time we really made some serious changes to the way we spend money. We decided to live within our means and be faithful to God in our giving.
We also heard a superb testimony about a guy that wanted to be faithful to God in his giving. He said, Lord, I want to keep our way of living the same, but, if you increase my income, I will increase my giving. So before long, his income increased. They as a couple decided to give God 20% of their income and keep 80% of them. Before long, their income increased again. They began giving 30% and keeping 70% and they were living the same lifestyles. In the end, he said, brothers and sisters we are now living on 10% of our income and giving God 90% and we have not changed our way of living, just our way of giving. I know this is not for everyone, it takes two decide this huge commitment and implant it into our family and children’s hearts. I will tell you though, we decided this with my husband and our lives are blessed more and more each year. My husband is the only provider for our family (my blog is a hobby). We are able to have him go on several mission trips a year out-of-pocket, support ministries, have our children attend a Christian school and he works less now than when we decided to be faithful to God with our giving. I am not at all saying look at home amazing we are, oh NO! I am saying there is power in being faithful to God in our giving. There were times when after we would give God his portion and do all of our commitments, there was little left for our family. It’s amazing to see God come through every time and bless us with just what we needed in the nick of time. If God can walk us through this with 5 children, he can lead your family as well. When we are low, our children, with us, go to God and ask him to fulfill our needs. They learn firsthand and see how faithful God is. It’s not just a pretty verse in the Bible, but a lifestyle to live by.
During World War 2 a family had a few missionaries knock on their door. They had many children but knew they needed to feed the missionaries. They gave the last of their food to the missionaries, leaving their family with nothing. The children didn’t complain but knew they had nothing for dinner. The father called the family into a different room out of earshot of the missionaries and prayed fervently for a way to feed their families and went about their day telling the children God will provide. Before dinner was served they heard a knock on the door. As they opened it there stood a dog with a bag in his mouth. When they opened the bag, there were several loaves of warm bread and a big chunk of meat. This story always brings tears to my eyes. Our children have so much. Yet, at times we struggle with not purchasing the toy the child “thinks” he absolutely must have in his tantrum.
As you see in my other personal posts, I LOVE spreadsheets. So I will break down and give a quick overview of my spreadsheets and how I use them. Those of you that could benefit from them, e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below and I will get them to you with a more in-depth explanation how I use them and share my pictures. Spreadsheets make my life so simple and I spend very little time calculating because everything is broken down so well. If you are not a computer kind of person, we can set up a time and Skype together. I will go step by step over everything I have and it will change your life, it surely has changed ours.
I have a spreadsheet for each month that lists all of our bills. I am able to see what needs to be paid on one page. There is space for me to note how each bill is paid and form of payment used. Should I ever need to know how much was paid for something a few months back, I just easily go through my spreadsheet folder and look up what is needed? It’s absolutely fabulous. I have a folder with a name for each bill that needs to be paid and the hard copies are kept in there. At the end of the year, they are filed and put away and a new year begins.
I keep a spreadsheet with every amount we tithe (give). It tracks to whom funds are given and keeps balances.
We have a separate bank account for our tithing. We use this account to write checks out for tithing, make withdraws and deposit money into. Keeping this separate from our personal accounts has made life so much easier. Should I ever need copies or backtrack I just look at our statement of this bank account. I keep track of every amount we tithe, yes to the few dollars. It helps make sure nothing was missed. In the beginning of our marriage, we just stored our “tithing” in an envelope. Before long, I would need a $20 and take it from there and forget to document it, or forget to put a certain checks tithe in there and it wasn’t right. We want tithing to be our priority and not an if I have enough this month Lord and the time doesn’t seem to come for months.
I have spreadsheets and folder that tracks all of our income. At the end of each month, I have a total and calculate the amount that needs to be tithed and transfer it to my tithing spreadsheet. I then know how much we need to give. This way we able to see on paper where we are and where we should be.
We will take a few numbers and work with them. Provider(s) makes $500 dollars a week, this will give a family a $2,166 income (average). Without budgeting money may be spent unwisely, credit card debt accumulated and out of control spending may occur. Let’s break it down for with an example.
$500 a week x 52 weeks (in a year) and divided by 12 months (some weeks have 5 months).
Gives an average of $2,166 income for the month.
Say the expenses on a monthly basis are as follows-
$217 Tithing, rounded (this comes first)
$108 savings (God forbid an illness or something catastrophic happen, and the provider cannot provide for the family. Christian financing experts say at least 3-6 months of income should be comfortably in savings).
$100 insurance home and auto
$500 food (dining out, fast food, coffee stops included)
There are $341 dollars at the end of the month to spend. Having things broken down really shows me what I have. We as smart steward of our finances really should be living within that $341.
Credit cards are great if you can pay it off at the end of the month and have points accumulate for rewards (the purchase that you made for $150 dollars will not be $150 if paid off monthly and interest accrued).
Last example, something God put on my heart as I have prayed for this post. Living within your means and learning to budget is really having the fruit of the spirit in us bring forth fruit (Gal 5:22).
Love- God is love, and us becoming more like him and having a love for humankind and become Christ-centered and giving to other instead of us, me, me. It’s no longer and oh no, we again need to give 10% of our income, but, I cannot wait to see who will be blessed by our tithing. Instead of buying that 15th purse I don’t need honey let’s support that large family in our church and anonymously send them a gift card via mail. Giving then becomes contagious because you love as God loves.
Joy- Being joyous in this decision. I will have less but I am so joyful that I will be giving more.
Peace- Having peace that regardless what happens, God has my finances under control.
Long-suffering- Sometimes it will mean some long-suffering to live within our means. Yes, that purse I want is on sale but still out of my budget, I will hold off until I can comfortably purchase it and it won’t hinder our family. <Have a week of living like our brothers and sisters who are in third world countries. Simple dinners, no dessert, no fancy drinks, no snacks. Children become more grateful as do we.>
Faithfulness- Being faithful in this decision and sticking it out with God’s help.
Self-control to tell myself this is not what I need and will not purchase. Even if it means I have to make myself leave the store empty-handed.
Joy, being content and joyous in living within our means and what the provider(s) can provide our family with and not what I want to live like.
Such a beautiful illustration, isn’t it?
I hope, pray and pray again that this post was a blessing to you. That you will prayerfully consider giving more to the body of Christ and less of me and us. If any of you are over your head in credit card debt and just cannot seem to find your way out, there truly is a way and God wants you to be debt free. E-mail, I will share you my some testimonies of how one can get out of debt with God’s help. Having substantial debt (especially credit card debt) can really way heavy on a marriage.
Tips for spending less-
-SET GOALS and Budget plan. Track and see what is your biggest spending and work on it.
-Ask yourself, how will this purchase impact my family and do I truly need it?
-If you ever have an overdraft fee or late fee, don’t be afraid to call and ask for it to be waived.
Plan out your meals and go grocery shopping with a list.
Go grocery shopping on a full stomach, statistics show you as less inclined to spend if you are full.
Only go through the isles that are only on your list.
Don’t buy more groceries than you can consume. Clean out pantry often.
Do online shopping, saving on gas and time away from family.
Resist urges to shop whenever, shop for what you need and leave (practice self-control).
Make a list of what needs purchased and only go into those aisles.
I truly believe shopping can be an addiction, sometimes, we have to pray for God to give us freedom from it, just like any other addiction.
Pay with cash.
Give your spouse your receipts when you are done shopping, keep each other accountable.
What are some of your tips for living on a budget, spending less, giving more or tithing? I absolutely love to hear your feedback. Maybe someone else will be blessed by your comment, so please comment away.. 🙂 🙂