Our first topic in our series, Giving Grace is MONEY.
We're not sure about you, but we have definitely struggled through money matters in our 16 years of marriage. Money is a charged topic! So, how do we have grace for each other, especially when we find ourselves on opposite ends of the spectrum? I'm a saver. He's a spender. How do we ever figure out how to manage our money without an argument every time?
Craig and I have learned a thing or two about showing grace to each other as we budget, make financial plans, and deal with the unexpected. Here are our ABCs to giving grace when it comes to finances.
The ABCs of giving grace when dealing with money matters (most of this is in the video, but there are a few new ideas and resources listed below):
- Activate Compassion: Your spouse probably has some emotional ties to money (both Craig and I do!), so when those come up, have compassion. Understand that your spouse probably has some baggage associated with how he/she deals with spending, saving, and budgeting. There might be fear or security that needs to be addressed before you get down to the nitty-gritty of a financial plan. Instead of dismissing the emotional reaction, try to see things from his/her perspective. Honor the feelings (feelings are just feelings—they not good or bad) and allow yourselves to really explore each other's history with money and all the emotions, behaviors, and feelings that come with it.
- Beware of your Baggage: Like we said, it's easy to get emotionally tied to money. Be aware of your own unhealthy behaviors, emotions, and feelings. When you feel yourself getting defensive or charged during money conversations, think about the root from which that is coming. For example, Do you feel like your security is threatened? Do you feel constrained by the budget? Do you feel out of control? Naming your emotions and thinking about why they are coming up helps the productivity of the conversation, gives both you and your spouse insight, builds trust and intimacy in your relationship, and gives you an opportunity to be really honest about your past and how you see your family dynamics and resources in the future.
- Compromise. We know—this can be painful. It's hard to give things up, but there are creative ways to meet your family goals without always going without the things you want. For example, we think it's important for each spouse to have a specified amount of "blow money" each month. You can spend or save this money—however you choose. For example, Craig and I pay each other $50 every month. Right now, Craig's using his to save up for a shotgun. The purchases that come from this budget, we don't generally discuss. It gives each of us some breathing room, especially Craig, who has a harder time liking the whole budgeting system.
This is one thing that keeps us centered: Regardless of who brings in what money, what we have is not Craig's. It's not Jen's. It's not even our family's. It's God's.
Everything we have, we have because of His great generosity. Though we may work for the money, God has given us the talent and ability to do so. Our giftings come from Him. As such, when we make financial decisions, we remember that we want to honor God with all He has given us.
Here are some financial resources for you to consider:
- Money Quiz (This is the one Craig and I took, but there are several others online.)
- Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (Many churches host this program, so if you are interested in doing this within the context of community, check your local churches to see if any of them are offering this.)
- Focus on the Family's Money Management in Marriage series
- This NPR article provided some great ideas and a very relatable situation.
- FamilyLife article about dealing with financial difficulties
- Praying through your finances: Amelia's story