I feel I should preface this post with a note. It is different than a lot of what you have seen at HappierHusband. But sometimes you have to shake things up.
Did You Know?
Did you know that most people live paycheck to paycheck? I’m sure you did. Did you know that the median household income in the United States for 2009-2013 was $53,046? For a family of four (two children and two adults) that is almost $30,000 above the United States poverty level.
If you make more than $10,000 in your household per year then you are wealthier than most of the people in the world. You are RICH! Rolling in the bucks! You can buy pretty much anything you like because you make more money than billions of other people! (That was sarcasm, just in case you didn’t catch it.) Don’t fall for it. The truth is although you probably DO make more money than most people in the world you live in a part of the world where you pay more for products and services as well. Just because you make $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 or more you should not feel guilt for someone who lives in a different country but makes enough money to take care of their own family. I recently was speaking to a friend who lived in Asia for 8 months. She was lamenting the fact that when she returned to the US some items cost 4 times what they paid while they were out of the country. If you have enough money for safety, for shelter, for putting a little into savings and for helping others, then you are doing well…no matter the exact amount. Note that I didn’t mention tithing in that list. We shouldn’t count our tithe as income to be considered, as it is a gift back to God for His goodness to us.
A Personal Question
If you had a look at our family’s tax returns you’d say we are doing ok. But are we doing as well as we should be doing? I don’t mean should we be making millions of dollars per year (although there is nothing wrong with that as long as the money is used in accordance with God’s will and Biblical principles), I mean are we doing as well as we should with what God has provided? In other words are we being good stewards?
Why Americans Live Paycheck to Paycheck
I’m convinced there is a simple reason why so many American families find themselves under crushing debt loads and always living near the edge of financial ruin. A very simple reason. We don’t have a lack of money; we have a lack of a money plan. There is a cost to not having a plan for our finances and it’s not just a cost to us.
Imagine With Me
Imagine being able to anonymously send $1,000 to a family in your church that you know is in need.
Imagine being able to commit $30 per month to supporting a child in poverty in another country.
Imagine being able to plan and enjoy a cruise or a trip to Orlando with your family…and to bring along your child’s best friend at your expense.
Imagine taking an annual mission trip to the same place each year and making great relationships with the people in that area and bringing them to Jesus.
Counting the Cost
Do you know how much each of those imaginings would cost? Of course the first two are simple, but even the others are only a few thousand dollars. Now, I hear what you are probably thinking. “ONLY a few thousand dollars? Is he nuts? If I had a few thousand extra dollars I would be able to pay my way out of this mess!” My friend, you do have a few thousand dollars to spare…and so do I. They are wrapped up in going out to dinner every Sunday and buying clothes when we already have more than we wear. Those thousands of dollars are in a hundred little things we buy or waste over the course of each year. Maybe it’s time for a change.
The Simple Solution
There is a simple solution. It has three steps. But it also has a cost. The cost is self-discipline.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
-Hebrews 12:11 NLT
Here are the steps: 1) Make a budget where you spend less than you take in. 2) Pay down your debts with the excess. 3) Stick to it.
There are many ways to make a budget; Dave Ramsey has an entire course used in many churches dedicated to it, Financial Peace University. If you don’t have the option to take the course then buy Dave’s book The Total Money Makeover. Right now he is offering a $33 deal on the entire Destroy Debt 2015 bundle. Those aren’t affiliate links, I won’t make a dime if you buy them but I just want you to know they are out there. If you can’t afford the books check with your pastor or local library.
I want to be very clear. This should not be taken as license for one person in a marriage to control or overpower the other person’s ability to spend money. This must be a process worked out between the two of you where you both agree that steps need to be taken and changes need to be made. But like all critical aspects of marriage this process needs to be bathed in prayer and mutually supportive.
Life is tough, but if you are tough on yourself it will be infinitely easier on you.
If you commit to this path of self discipline then you’ll be happier in the long run. There will be challenges and unexpected expenses. There may be times when you blow it and have to jump back on. But imagine the satisfaction of know you are using the resources God has loaned to you in a way that is pleasing to Him and in a way that will allow you to live with less stress and to help others in need.
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Love you all!