A quick visit to any fitness center during the first quarter of the year and it’s clear that a new year brings a new attitude for many people when it comes to physical health. If you took a cursory look at the physical health of most Americans, you’d agree the gym is where most of us need to be found. The interesting thing is most American’s financial health is in just as bad of shape yet financial counselors are not being overrun with people trying to get in financial shape.
Poor financial shape is not a condition that escapes those of us in vocational ministry. Those engaged in vocational ministry are among the most generous people I know; however, many of those same generous people are often themselves struggling when it comes to their family finances. When our finances are out of shape, so too are our families. Poor financial health affects all of our relationships including our marriage.
1 Timothy 5:8 (NKJV)
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
While Paul was specifically dealing with caring for the widow, this is also important advice regarding the importance of properly handling our family finances. The time for us as minister’s of the Gospel to lead in the area of finances is now. It will only happen though if we realize that financial management is a spiritual discipline. Jesus spoke of money often and expects us to handle the finances that pass through our hands as stewards. We don’t own it, but we are responsible for managing it. We are expected to manage it from a Kingdom mindset.
For some, the idea of managing finances is a daunting task. If that’s you, I’ve got four things you can begin immediately to help you jumpstart your financial health.
- Eliminate mine/yours from your marriage vocabulary. Over and over I’ve seen in couples who struggle financially an attitude of mine and yours from who’s responsible for what bills all the way down to separate checking accounts. This approach breeds mistrust and bitterness. When you were married, you became one, and that includes your finances as well.
- Tithing is not optional. Often when couples are struggling, they will try cutting back on their tithe as if giving God back what is already his will somehow solve their mismanagement of finances. God can not bless your finances if you are not faithful with what you’ve been given.
- Stop impulse buys especially over a certain dollar amount. As a couple make a decision as to what that amount will be and never make a purchase over that amount without first discussing it with your spouse. It’s also a good idea for larger purchases to have an overnight rule where you not only talk it over with your spouse but you wait at least a day to purchase it after you’ve had an additional conversation.
- Saving is not just for retirement. While your monthly budget must include funds for retirement, it also needs to include funds for large purchase items. The fact that you are going to need someday to replace your current vehicle shouldn’t come as a surprise. Begin setting aside something so when the time comes it’s not an emergency but rather a planned expense.
If you would put these four disciplines into practice, I believe you will be on the road to improved financial health.