Sheila’s Marriage Musings: Do You Know WHY You’re Budgeting?
I’ve been watching Dave Ramsey videos non-stop as we’ve been touring the southwest in our RV (I’m down in California and Texas giving my Girl Talk!).
And one video in particular stood out to me. A caller to his radio show was at his wit’s end because his wife just wouldn’t get on board with budgeting and curbing her spending.
Instead of sympathizing with him, Dave Ramsey gave him a little bit of a talking to.
I think the mistake you’ve made is that you’ve talked about what to do and how to do it before you talked about why you’re doing it.
This is so true, and not just about finances, but in every area of life!
Let’s look at money for a moment. Why do we need to pay off debt? If you were to ask someone that question, chances are they’d say something like “because debt is bad”, or because “we’re tired of always being broke” or because “we don’t want the stress.” And all of that may be true.
But it’s not really motivating enough to make us change.
Let’s face it–you’ve known debt is bad your whole life, right? And people can learn to live with an incredible amount of stress, and start to feel like this is normal.
Instead, let’s ask this question:
What would we be able to do if we were millionaires? What would be able to do if we didn’t have to make any payments?
Becoming a millionaire is honestly not that difficult. It just takes discipline and starting as early as possible.
Business Insider has calculated that if you save $2 a day, or $60 a month, starting when you’re 20, you’ll be a millionaire by age 65. Start at 30, and it will be $6 a day or $200 a month. At 40, it’s $20 a day or $625 a month. Now, that’s assuming a 12% rate of return, which is the average for the stock market over the last 50 years, but it’s not like saving a large amount of money is impossible.
It is really hard, though, if you don’t know your why.I know so many couples in financial trouble who are having the hardest time budgeting because budgeting is hard, it’s boring, and it feels like a punishment. We’ve been bad boys and girls so we’ve been sent to the corner until we can get this right.
But what if we could take a step back and ask, “why are we really doing this?”
It’s not just because you’ve been bad. You’re doing this so that one day you won’t have payments, and you’ll be able to go on vacations without feeling guilty. You’ll be able to help your kids out through school. You’ll be able to start that business you’ve always wanted to start.
Or, even better, you’ll be able to bless other people and really start supporting the causes and the people you love.
It’s not a punishment; it’s an opportunity!
One of the best things a couple can do is to figure out where they want to be in life–and then make a plan to get there.
If finances are an issue in your marriage, I invite you to take a look at these resources, too:
Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8
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We are really aggressive on paying down our mortgage, so that we tend to get down to pennies a day or two before our next pay check (which my husband finds more stressful than I do). BUT. With all of that, we should pay off our house in three years. Which is freaking amazing! So, even though my husband is not a natural saver and it stresses him to make our budget that tight, he looks at where we will be in a very short time, and gets really excited. We will have so much flexibility in our careers, our home life, the ability to travel, to save for retirement, and to remain debt free for pretty much ever.
I can save just because. Like, I don’t “need” that money, I’ll just give it or stick it in savings. But have a clear (and relatively close) milestone makes saving a lot more meaningful for my husband. It’s a goal that he 1) wants to achieve and 2) is clearly achievable. That’s a great feeling.
Also, I should say, my husband balances me out. Like, I love travel, but when I was single, I would do, like, a long weekend somewhere ever 3-4 years. After my miscarriage a couple of years ago, my husband wanted to do something together in the summer, and I said “how about a long weekend in Seattle?” He said, “you’re not allowed to plan this,” and we spent 1 day (a long layover) in Frankfurt, Germany, and 7 days in Athens and along the Greek coast … which was incredible and amazing and exactly perfect to put a stake in the ground and say “we will enjoy life and be happy.”
A little bit of extravagance makes life more enjoyable, and that’s a lesson I need. (I am a natural ascetic.)
Our “why” of budgeting is two fold. First, managing our funds is a way my wife and I honor God. There are many principles in the Bible that address this. Second, we have long term goals that will only be achieved by sacrificing some short term fun for long term gains.
I’ll be honest, I don’t think it’s my job as a parent, to fund my child’s college education, Right now, at age 44, I am throwing almost 10% of my salary into my Pension fund through my place of employment. My child can take out loans, get scholarships and grants for College, I however cannot take out a loan for my retirement. Nor am I relying on Social Security (here in the US) to be the primary source of income once I’m retired either.
IF I make it to retirement, that is. I have a broken back, thanks to my chosen career of nursing. One herniated and two severely bulged discs in my lumbar area. I’ll eventually need surgery. Trust me, it’s not something that Im looking forward to.
I agree with Dave Ramsey. WHY a budget? I’ve posed that question to my spouse many times. When we first got married, it was decided that we’d live with his mother until we could save up enough to buy a house. Well, when those two years were up., he changed his mind and didn’t ever want to leave his childhood home. So, I agreed to stay PROVIDED we could do some remodeling. Like adding an upstairs bathroom, so I wouldn’t fall down the stairs again, which had happened 2-3 times in the past. This was before I got pregnant.
We also do not ever go on any big vacations. Our last big vacation was our honeymoon to Myrtle Beach, SC in 1999. Why? Because he is not interested in going anywhere that requires a plane trip. So, then really, what’s the point in saving/budgeting? I have no ‘why’.
I agree with you regarding the funding of kid’s college expenses. My wife and I help where we can, but it has been made clear to our kids that it is their college education, their potential benefit from graduating, and their bill. I have paid for my own courses as well. It provided great motivation to take it seriously.
I am a bit disappointed to find such topics and advices on your blog. It seemed this week I wasn’t reading a christian blog but a North American blog. Granted, your advices are generally culturally oriented, which is why they are relevant to us westerners, but they are also usually wise and bible-based, which is what I appreciate so much about you.
Now, let me explain my disappointment : saving 200$ a month for 35 years only saves 84 000$. And you are supporting claims that it is enough to become a millionaire ? I get it, with 12% investment rates it would work, it is not the math I am arguing agains, it is the moral of it all. What does “investing” 84 000$ really means ? It means making a loan with interest to investment funds or banks, which will again loan that money to businesses, which are going to make a profit. That profit will benefit those who invested their money in the first place : the banks, investment funds and yourself. That is the basis of our economy.
So what disturbs me, really ? First, the Bible is against loaning with interest. I know, we modern people tend to not be so sure about it, but this is definitely the way the early church understood it and it was forbiden for a long time.
Then, we need to ask who is paying the extra 916 000$. It is irresponsible to just “invest” money and not worry about what that means : the pressure on business to make more profits, which generally ends up in poor job conditions for the workers, relocalization to countries where the workers have less protection, less rights, child labor, waste of natural ressources (pollution, need to create more needs to sell more, hence the making of low quality high environmental impacts products) and so on.
English is not my native language so excuse me for any unclear phrases, but I am really passionate about this topic and I can’t seem to understand why christians, especially rich christians, would just burry their heads in the sand and believe they can just make more money with money to pay off debts they shouldn’t have in the first place and get a house in a decent area. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where this is part of the christian life…
I realize what you’re saying, but investing, in and of itself, does not exploit anyone. It’s how jobs are created, which is how people move up in the world!
When you invest, you give capital to a company. That company then produces goods, which it sells. That company then uses the money that it makes selling that products to hire workers and to give people jobs. If there is money left over afterwards, they give it to shareholders. If there is not, they don’t. The share price changes based on how much profit the company makes.
But let’s remember: profit is what allows companies to create jobs.
For instance, when I started this blog, I used a little bit of my own money. I then created products (books) which I sell. That money has allowed me to hire four people to work part-time with me on this blog. Those four families now have more money to buy their own houses and to put food on the table.
That started because I took ideas that I had (books) and turned them into products that other people needed.
Then, now that we have this income, we can use it to further the kingdom of God. For instance, my husband and I are huge supporters of an education program in India run by an indiginous missionary who educates families in rural villages about child trafficking, so that they don’t sell their children into the sex trade and educate them instead.
All of that is able to be done because I took an idea + some money and turned it into something.
When you invest in the stock market, you do the same thing, just on a bigger scale. You fund ideas that other people have, and you make a profit off of that which you can then use to fund the kingdom of God.
That is how the world works! And I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to create jobs and fund important things for God because of capitalism.