On Sunday, Matt and I had the opportunity to speak to our Sunday school class (though they don't really call them that up here) with only being back just a couple weeks. After much debate and consideration of our options, we decided we needed to return to the original church we were involved in. They offer community. Which right now we need the most. I feel that God has confirmed that decision - and I am very grateful.
During the summer months, the class offers couples to take a stand and share during one Sunday morning. Matt and I were enticed and quickly decided to talk on something that Matt knows well...and I have learned...finance/budgeting. I was a little worried on how it would be perceived. Budgeting isn't something that you get together with your friends and discuss over a cup of coffee (well, unless you are married to a finance guy, like myself) and can honestly be a touchy subject for some. Sadly we've seen firsthand the consequences of not communicating and making a plan for your money in many people's lives. Matt and I have our struggles, but I am blessed that they rarely involve money. I think mostly because we are on the same page and discuss is regularly (extensively when we sit down and do our budget together each month).
I thought I'd highlight a few of our notes from our talk. We had a great time praying, organizing our thoughts and practicing together. We came up with a "mock budget" that was based on our own to pass out to the class and shared Scripture and thoughts for each area. Though I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest during the first 10 minutes while we shared our stories, but I hardly noticed any nerves during the remainder of it.
I. Money is not a popular topic when it comes to spiritual growth in the church, which can lead us to assume that they way we use our money doesn't matter.
a. There are over 700 references to money and 2/3 of Jesus' parables deal with money
b. Jesus ties our ability to handle spiritual things with our ability to handle money - Luke 16:10-13
c. We are merely a steward of God's possessions - Psalm 24:1, Haggai 2:8
d. "If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will straighten out almost every other area of this life" - Billy Graham
II. Income - the Lord will provide for all your needs - Matthew 6:31-33
a. Why is it so difficult to budget? Because it requires a great deal of self-control. You have two choices, to control your flesh or let your flesh control your financial future
b. A budget is a communication tool:
1. To you to see where your money goes
2. Between you and your spouse on how you believe your money should be spent
3. Allows you to plan for future expenses
III. Tithe - Give the first fruits of your labor to the Lord- Proverbs 3:9
a. "Christians give an average of only 2.4 percent of their income" pg. 66 Your Money Map
b. 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
c. Give each month - start small if needed and pray that God will reveal to you what and where He desires you to give.
d. Make sure your attitude is right, give freely with joy - Proverbs 11:24-25, Acts 20:35
IV. Savings - Be diligent about saving/planning - Proverbs 21:5
a. Have a long term approach, emergency fund allows you to survive the bumps life throws at us.
b. Be on the same page with your spouse about goals - 5/10/15 years and retirement
c. Personal Example: I plan on staying home with our kids, so we have always done our best to live off one salary and save the other from the beginning. Matt and I also have to plan accordingly for retirement. His retirement will need to support two. We also have saved/are saving for expected expenses: baby, medical, future car (to pay cash for), etc.
V. Housing/ Car Expenses
a. Hebrews 13:5 - Avoid chasing the American dream. Keep an eternal perspective.
b. "People buy things they don't need with money they don't have to impress people they don't even like" - George Fooshee
c. There are lots of examples of this in our society. Recent foreclosure market which is not the banks complete fault, it is the responsibility of the purchaser to know what they really can and cannot afford.
d. Based on our research complete housing expenses (insurance, tax, utilities, bills, etc) should not exceed 30-40% of your total income (and less if possible!).
VI. Variable expenses - Expenses that can fluctuate month to month
a. We believe that God allows us to enjoy the "fruit of our labor", not live in deprivation - Psalm 128:2
b. Determine what a need verses a want is
c. If you need to save, be willing to cut something (ex: live without cable for a year)
d. When we first got married we decided it was important to each have set amount of money a month to do with what we wanted, no questions asked. That amount has fluctuated based on circumstances, but it allows freedom in a marriage within those means spend money on what you desire without arguments.
VII. Debt - there is good (mortgage and school loans) and bad debt (consumer credit)
a. There is a burden in owing money - Proverbs 22:7
b. We should strive to only owe love to others, not money - Romans 13:8
c. "The average American card holder carries more than six credit cards, and the average household that has credit card debt owes more than $9,300 on their cards" Pg. 130 Your Money Map
d. There is hope if you are in debt and joy and freedom in getting out
e. Resources: http://www.crownmoneymap.org/, http://www.daveramsey.com,/ http://www.christianpf.com/
So there is a brief overview. I am thankful for Matt's wisdom in money. I am thankful to have that security and freedom in our finances. We live frugal lives, but do not deprive ourselves of little joys (or save for big joys!). We can spend our time and concerns on other things rather than the bank account. I know we are blessed and I do not take it for granted.