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Managing Your Finances Together, Part 2

From the series Keeping Love Alive - Volume 2

Fewer things put more strain on a marriage than debt. Whether its… unpaid credit cards, overdue mortgage payments, or student loans … there's a lot of pressure in owing other people money. It’s an overwhelming feeling! In this program, Chip wraps up his series “Keeping Love Alive, Volume 2” by finishing his talk on marriage and finances. Don’t miss how to dig out of debt, and have a more peaceful home.

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Message Transcript

Debt is dangerous and to be avoided. I think the best counselors I know say it’s not wrong to have some debt, appreciable items. It’s way better not to have any.

And we are to be accurately aware of our financial condition. Now, this would be interesting. I will not do this, because I would not want to embarrass anyone.

But if I could, if you all lined up and I could meet with couples, couples, couples, couples, and then I would just, okay, separate – earphones so she couldn’t hear, he couldn’t hear. And I would ask the man, “In general, how much debt do you have? How much money do you have in savings? How much is on your credit cards? How much short-term, long-term, or any investments that you have? I mean, just a ballpark. I don’t want the exact numbers. But you’re aware of, basically, your finances.”

What I would find in most couples, one person would have a vague idea and the other would be, like, “He takes care of all that,” or, “She takes care of all that.” Or they would both fumble around a lot and not have a very accurate. The Bible says, “Know well the condition of your flock.” You need to know: This is our level of debt. Currently, right now, this is how much we have set aside for an emergency.

This is a fund that we have developed for, we are saving for the next car that we are going to buy, because we want to pay cash. This is what we are doing in terms of long-term in investment or retirement. And you kind of know where you’re at. And, by the way, your body language. Can I, I’m talking really fast. I’m going to pause for a minute. The reason you are feeling the way you are feeling is because of the deceitfulness of riches.

Do you realize fifty percent of all the people that graduate from college, I read a statistic, file bankruptcy. You go to college, they give you a t-shirt, “Here’s a credit card.” By the time, they’re out, there’s literally, we have a whole generation – some Christian, some non-Christian – that they think this is money.

I remember one of my grandkids, we were taking them out for something and we’re having a pizza or something like that, you know, they’re six, seven, eight, nine, ten at the time and we were here and, oh, “Do you want to get something like?” I said, “Oh, I don’t have my wallet.” And I said, “I don’t know what to do.” And one of my, I forget, one of my grandkids said, “Oh, just use one of those cards!” In other words, it wasn’t, you don’t need money. There was no connection between money and a card.

But here’s, okay, okay. Now, I’m going to be really, really gentle here. If you want to get hold of your life, if you want to get hold of your values, if you want to get hold of your future, you have to get a hold of your money and your time and your thought life.

If you do not get a hold of your money, it will get a hold of you and despite your best intentions, it will take you places you do not want to go. If you don’t get a hold of your thought life, you intend, you can try, you can want to, you can plead, but you are the product of your thoughts. It’s how God made us. Your emotions are a response to your thoughts.

Much of your behavior, instead of being intellectually based, “Oh, this is logical. This is what I ought to do.” Is that what we do? Like, “I’m feeling kind of down, I’m feeling kind of blue. Oh, it’s really logical, don’t go to the refrigerator. So, I won’t.” Ha, ha, ha, ha. What do we do? We eat, we spend, we shop, we go, we vacation.

There are only five uses of money. I got this from Ron Blue. You can give it away, you can pay taxes with it, you can save it, you can pay off debt, or you can live off of it. And when I say “savings”, I mean savings as in short-term, emergency fund, which I find most people don’t have.

But then there’s sort of a mid-range savings where we set aside x amount so that when we get the tax bill, we don’t go, “Oh.” So, every paycheck, a little bit goes in for the tax. We have a game plan. At our age, in our stage, we wanted to help our grandkids. So, we set aside some where we started a little fund for their college.

We wanted to visit our grandkids and stay connected when they all grow and go different places. About fifteen years ago, we called it a “kid fund”. Because, and by the way, it’s not like we had a lot of money to put in these things. But the discipline of creating where you want your money to go creates an intention.

And so, but the point is do you plan and do you segment your dollars so that what I knew was, at the end of the day, what is going to be valuable? I want to be connected to my grown kids. I want to have at least every two years a window of time where those little kids grow up and they remember being on the boat with granddad and grandma and aunts and uncles and cousins and did it cost a lot of money?  Yeah, but I saved for it for two years.

I don’t have a ton of money in retirement, but I have got a plan that lines out that, well, sixty-five, I said, “I don’t have anything in the Bible about retirement.” I want to be used by God. I’m not trying to figure out, I mean, I’ve met these guys that their whole life was, “Boy, maybe by fifty-six I can retire and play golf.”

Now, personally, I like to play golf. But I think, pleasure is a great vacation. It’s a bad vocation. Pleasure is a great tour guide, it’s a great tour guide! Ah! Let’s have some fun. It is a terrible destination. It can’t deliver.

Financial freedom requires, and please don’t laugh, spending less than one’s income. If you add up all your expenses this month, or in the last year, are your expenses more than the money that came in? And if so, do you understand, that’s a fundamental problem? The government can do that; you can’t. I mean, they can just say, “Hey! Let’s print some more money.” Unfortunately, we will all end up paying for all that, one way or another.

And so, the lie is that what we need is we need more income. And so often, well, it’s a second job or we’ll do this or we’ll do this. Well, then your priorities get out of whack. Now, are there times for a second job? Man, of course.

But by and large, your need is not more money. Your need is to adjust your spending to your income. And your income needs to flow out of not, what are all the things that we think we need, but, see, you’ve got to go back to: This is who we want to be. This is God’s call on our life. This is what is important for our marriage. This is what is important if you have children or grandchildren. These are our goals. And then, okay, we are going to give first and foremost, because we are going to declare that money will not be our god. Before we do anything else, I am going to make my offering to God.

Second is I am going to obey the government, so I am going to set aside, I am going to pay my taxes. Then I am going to say, “What do we need to live on?” But before we do, even if it’s small, we are going to set aside some money to save. And you’re saying, “If I do all that, I’m not going to have much left.” You’re right.

So, do you need to lease a car that’s five hundred dollars a month? Do you need cable and Netflix and this and that? Do you need to eat out seven, eight, nine times a month? That’s just what happens.

Now, you’re thinking, Gosh, you’re talking about a completely altered lifestyle. It’s called freedom. It’s called joy.

The borrower is always a slave of a lender. And you just get into bondage. And it starts small, and then it mushrooms. And so, all I’m saying is that that’s the principle. You have to spend less than what comes in. Often money is not the problem, as we talked about, it’s often just the symptom.

Money solves emotional and relational problems short-term by compensation. A lot of parents buy stuff for their kids because they feel guilty they are not spending quality time with them. We buy gifts for one another or we say silly things like, “You know, it’s really been a rocky time in our marriage, so let’s just go to Hawaii.” I mean, really, sixty thousand dollars in debt, what’s another ten? I mean, the logic goes like that.

“There’s a way that seems right to a man,” Proverbs 14:12. “There’s a way that seems right to a woman, but the end thereof is death.” And what is common for other people is death for you. The fact that they do it is the fact that you’re going to see people whose marriages don’t work, whose kids are entitled, whose trajectory of their life is the opposite of what you want. And, yet, if you did some real hard evaluation, at some level, or maybe more than you would like, or maybe you’re in the deep end of the pool. And you just realize, this money thing is really the thing that is causing the pressure.

How do you solve the money problem? It has to begin with: “It’s our problem that we will solve,” right? We are going to do this together. Because once the pressure happens, what do we do? “It’s her.” Or whoever is the spender, especially, right? “It’s him!” “I can’t believe he bought new golf clubs.” “I can’t believe she went shopping and did this,” blah, blah, blah. “I can’t believe.” Blah. “I can’t…” And so, you blame. Either win-win or lose-lose.

Second then, assessment instead of blaming. You will need to get prayed up and then say, “Let’s sit down and see where we’re at, financially, so we both know. This is how much actually comes in, this is how much we pay in taxes, this is how much total debt we have in every area: long-term, short-term, credit card. This is how much we give. This is,” I’ve done this many times in seasons of marriage, for thirty days, and it’s easier on your phone. There are probably apps that do it now. For thirty days, Theresa and I would say, “We will, we are going to track every dollar we spend for thirty days, just to find out.” And spend, just be normal. Just track it.

It’s crazy, just by tracking it, you start spending less. And then you track it and you find, okay, this is how much on groceries, this is how much on going out to eat, this much on recreation, this much on clothes, this much…

And all of a sudden, what you see is in your mind it’s: We don’t have enough money to get by. And when you see where it actually goes, you’ll go, “Can you believe we spend a hundred and forty-two dollars on Starbucks?”

I’m just telling you, we have patterns. And hear! God’s not mad. But those patterns, right? Those paths, there’s a destination. And I just want you to know the destination that a great majority of Christians, and maybe a lot of you are on, it’s not where you want to be.

So, you sit down and you’ll notice the worksheet is I have just kind of taken what other really smart people in finance. And an honest appraisal and there’s a confession, say, here’s where you start, Lord, we are messed up with our money. Correction! Lord, we are messed up with Your money. And since it’s Your money, we are going to repent.

And then second, We want to have a clear conscience. We want not just our words, not just our thoughts, not just our actions – we want our money to be a reflection that we are living in a way that is pleasing to You. You do! You do understand, God longs to bless you.

Now, this is no prosperity stuff, but He wants to bless you, financially. Most Christians are not in a position to be blessed, financially. You have high debt and you don’t give much and you’re not very generous. God sees two kinds of people: dams and streams.

When He finds a stream, that means it comes, you get it, you know it’s His, and it flows in you, you enjoy it, and it flows through you. And you help lots of people in lots of ways. God just keeps, He just keeps filling streams.

There are others that are dams. It comes and hits you and you think it’s yours. And the water goes down because of debt and then you spend some stuff you don’t have, and it produces a lot of pressure. Oh, God, help! He goes, Well, I mean, you’re going to do the same thing with it. Actually, I need you to hit bottom, so you would look at each other and go, “We can’t keep living this way, financially.” So, it’s always out of His love.

And then there are principles here about a budget and how to do it and do it together and establishing, these are all the basic principles of finances. Resolving to get out of debt.

Developing a plan and a timeframe. Many of you, just like in other areas, you’ll need someone from the outside. You know, a financial counselor. Lots of churches now are doing some really good things with this.

And then explore creative means to reduce spending and living costs. And then just say, Lord, we want to obey You. One of the things that we did after we found out how much we were spending and all, then we developed – a budget sounds so harsh, doesn’t it? I mean, it just sounds like, Ugh, budgets. So, what we did is when we came up with: Okay, this is where we want to be and this is what we can afford. Okay, we gave, we paid our taxes, we saved. At least just it’s mostly the principle. It probably won’t do a whole lot of good. But we started there and it kept growing. Now, we have this much money left.

Then what we did is we said, okay, groceries. And, literally, we went to the bank, we got cash. Okay, family of six. Okay, three hundred and twenty dollars, put that in an envelope that says “groceries”. Recreation. We do want to go out a little bit. We want to do this, we want to do that. Right now, eighty dollars for this month. That goes in another envelope.

And we just, we had, like, five envelopes and you’ll see how to do that. And when the envelopes were empty, guess we’re not going to Starbucks! Guess we’re not going out to eat! And so, we lived on a cash basis. And we just – and it can be different amounts. But you would be shocked how your debt will come down, your freedom will go. And God will allow you to get a hold of your finances.

And then notice, what action step to begin the process? And this is one where it’s, in most couples it’s either a default – we don’t think about it a lot. Or it’s really an issue where there’s a lot of sparks. This is one of those: Let’s agree, let’s not blame anybody.

We have done that, right? Second, let’s not argue. That’s no fun either. Let’s work through this worksheet together and let’s come up with just a plan that we both agree on.

And what I can tell you, I have watched this just like spiritual intimacy, when couples get on the same page in finances, and then can I just – warning, warning, caution light, yellow, now it’s red – in about two or three weeks, one of you won’t stick to the budget. And it’s probably the spender. And one of you is really organized, follow through, details, and the other is a little bit more big picture. That’s the culprit. Watch that guy.

And then you’re going to have an argument. And guess what you’ll do. You’ll bear with one another, you’ll define the problem, you’ll initiate a time to talk. You have a way to solve the problem. You’ll forgive one another, you’ll repent – your Starbucks is down to four dollars. No, just kidding.

So, do you get it? This is one that doesn’t feel like, Oh wow! What a wonderful difference it will make. I will tell you, this will impact almost every area. And your children, man, it will so help them. “What do you mean we can’t have that? What do you mean we can’t buy that? Everyone…” You will have so many teachable moments when you begin to live in a way where you are wise stewards of His money and His time, of the home that you either own or rent as His steward, with the income that you have.

And as you do that, uhm Venture capitalists, they look for: Who is the right person, the right idea, the right concept, the right need, and we want to fund it. And the ultimate venture capitalist in the universe is God. He is looking for someone that would be a good manager, that has an open heart, that would use the resources that would bring honor and glory to Him, and He would really like, as a byproduct, to have you really enjoy it and make you happy. And probably provide some things that you would never dream.

But we live in a world where, “I want the things now for me.” And I neglect my business partner, my venture capitalist, the funder, the provider. Because no matter how much you have, haven’t we learned, man, your small business is thriving. Guess what, you’re out of business. I’ve talked with people, “I spent thirty-three years building this company. It’s gone. It’s gone.” So, what you want is you want a financial partner that will never leave you, never forsake you, and no matter what happens or when you fail you can always go back and, Lord, I’m…He’s near to the brokenhearted. He wants to help you.