A Plan for Life Together

| MOSAIC March 2011

As I prepared to write this article, our home was in turmoil. The past few weeks our house has been through what most homes see over a lifetime: 120 km/h wind storms; multi-day power outages; 4 feet of snow; garage renovations; bathroom renovations; 12 gallons of paint; and some 100 + guests and visitors. Spilled drinks and cake on the floor is just the icing to this story (lol). But out from all of this mayhem and chaos came something beautiful and amazing …my son’s wedding!

For a simple wedding, with an in-house reception, this wedding took a lot of planning – especially when the goal was to keep the costs low.  Even with aiming to keep expenses to a minimum, unexpected things always arise. Prioritizing the expenditures and creatively working with a budget is what enabled them to share a grand experience with all of their family and friends without going into debt.

Unfortunately, this story is not often the case for most couples. The average wedding costs run between $18,000 and $30,000 (not including the cost of the honeymoon or engagement ring). It is easy to see why many start off their lives together already deep in debt.

The Love & Money Workshop we offer to churches is based on material from a book by Matt Bell, “Money & Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples.”  I would recommend this as a great resource for both pastors and young couples to help get starting in applying biblical principles that will help them throughout their life together.

As I think about our son and new daughter’s new life together, I would encourage them to apply the principles covered in this workshop.

Live below your means (Spending Plan) – Create a spending plan together that will allow you to make the most of what God has provided you – without going into debt.  This is the most important tool in your financial management.

Make Generosity a Priority (Give) – Decide to make generosity a financial priority.  God uses generosity to root out selfishness out of our hearts.  And being less selfish can only help you as a couple in your relationship to each other and others. When you are generous with your money, you break the hold that materialism has on your hearts.  And when money and things are no longer so important – people become a priority.  And this makes for a great life together.

Plan for both the unexpected and important goals (Save) – Life happens.  Both good and bad – children, retirement, moves, as well as unexpected emergencies, vehicle breakdowns, job losses, and more.  When these things happen, we need to have savings in place in order to avoid using debt.

Avoid Debt (Sufficiency with Contentment) – Living with debt creates tremendous stress in any couple’s lives.  Research has shown that couples that have debt will fight about it.  And couples that fight about debt will also be more likely to fight about other things. By avoiding debt, we not only learn to live contently with what God has provided, but we avoid the stress and source of many arguments.

Avoid Financial Infidelity (Work together) –   A recent survey showed that 36 -40% of couples confess to lying about spending.  Commit to work together and hold no financial secrets from each other.  And when you do fight about money (which you will), commit to fighting fair. Make sure you avoid contempt. Listen well and learn to ask clarifying questions. Learn to speak non-defensively. And most importantly, stay with it.  Remember that your relationship is more important than money or anything that money can buy.

Monitor, Flex & Adjust (Living the Plan) – Next to having a spending plan, the next most important step is to monitor where your money is actually going as compared to your plan so that you can flex and make any necessary adjustments. This is living out the plan.

Live for Eternity (Outlive the Plan) – No matter how well we manage our finances, we need the right perspective. We do not live, save or spend our lives for today – but for eternity & God’s Kingdom.  As a couple, seek God’s Kingdom first in all areas of your life. Be generous with each other and anyone God brings into your life. Use what He has entrusted to you for His purpose. As you do, together you will find life that is truly life – and become rich towards God.

If your church is interested in hosting a Love & Money Workshop for your community, please contact the stewardship development office:  [email protected].