Money Management for the Christian Family

Written by Walter Moodie

In his day, John D. Rockefeller was one of the richest men in the world. For all practical purposes, his money was virtually limitless. Once, an interviewer asked him, “How much money is enough?”

Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more!”

As outrageous as it sounds, haven’t we all been there? Whatever our income level, we think to ourselves, If only I had just a little bit more… Then, at last, our budget would have some breathing room and we will be satisfied with our finances.

But Rockefeller’s response pokes a hole in that theory. The truth is, control over money has less to do with how much we make, and a lot more to do with how we manage what we have. Financial health is important not only to our bank balance but to the atmosphere in our home. More marriages have blown apart over financial issues than almost any other factor.

We need to recognize that managing money is a spiritual issue. Did you know that Jesus spoke more about money than He did about any other topic? In fact, 15% of all the recorded words of Jesus are on the subject of money—more than His teachings on heaven and hell combined. Why did money matter so much to Jesus?

To Jesus, our attitude towards money is of utmost importance, because it is a reflection of our attitude towards God. As Larry Burkett said, “You can tell more about the spiritual lives of a couple by looking at their chequebook than by anything else.”

Everything we have comes from God. He owns it, and He entrusts it to us to use for His purposes. True financial success comes not from accumulating a large surplus in our bank account, but from following God’s plan for our finances. As we do this, He will provide for all of our needs.

Are money problems rearing their ugly head and causing tension in your family? Has it been difficult for you to manage your finances and to know where you really stand? If so, consider this simple three-step plan to successful money management.

1. Give to God first

As Christians, our first financial priority, just as in every other area of life, should be God and His work. The issue of managing all of our gifts including our finances is of great importance to God. Figuring out how much to give as a minimum is fairly easy, as the Bible instructs us to give a tithe, or one tenth or our income back to God. This is a great starting point for Christian giving and should be calculated on the gross salary (or on net income before taxes for those in businesses for themselves).

Now, you may be thinking: How can we possibly do that when we are already struggling to make ends meet? I thought you were going to tell us how to get out of financial trouble, not make it worse!

The truth is there will never be “enough” to give. If we wait until all of our needs and desires are met before we start to give, it will never happen. In fact, statistics show that in Canada, the more a person makes, the less they are likely to give, percentage-wise. The more we have, the more we think we need.

It is interesting, but people today talk very little about their actual salary or how much they are worth. Like all secrets, this gives far more power to money than it actually deserves. Similarly, and more properly, people who tithe do not go around boasting about it. But I would like to challenge you to ask people you trust whether or not they tithe. If they do tithe, ask them about their experience. In all my discussions with people about money I have never heard anyone say that their financial problems started or got worse once they started to tithe. On the contrary, people who tithe seem to be better off than those who don’t. It is one of the many mysteries of how God works.

2. Set aside funds for regular savings

An important second step is to establish the discipline of setting aside money for inevitable expenses and large purchases, such as the down payment for a home, college education, vacations and retirement. This will allow you to spend from cash resources and eliminate the need to borrow when that is not wise. You will be surprised by how much can be accumulated by a simple but disciplined savings program.

Do not plan your savings after you plan your spending, because experience shows that those who try this rarely succeed. You may decide to make this a percentage of your income, and this will probably change as you go through the various stages of life. All financial planners will tell you that the sooner you start saving the more you will be able to save, so plan to start right now.

The issue of savings is one that requires a balanced perspective. The Bible makes it clear that we are supposed to save, but it never tells us how much is too much or too little. The purpose of saving is to provide for legitimate future needs, and for some it will allow you to become one of those special people who can fund important needs of others.

3. Spend the rest on what you need

The key to good money management is expense management. We need to learn to live below our means and be content with what God has given us. This is hard for all of us, but it is an important life lesson. The key is to develop a good budget, which is basically a spending plan. Invest the time in learning to use helpful tools, such as a computer spreadsheet or a financial program. If you have never had a budget, spend two or three months tracking your spending. Try keeping a log every time you spend money so that you can improve your budget understanding. Then examine your habits and determine how you would like to proceed and where you need to cut back.

Be committed to this plan and do not be discouraged if you do not see results for the first two or three months. It takes time to break old habits, and if you have gotten yourself into a financial hole it will take time to dig back out. Be patient and stick to your budget spending, because it really does work.

Finally, two more important points to consider:

  1. Always discuss finances as a couple. One spouse likely has more financial skills than the other and will naturally take the lead, but this is no excuse for the other spouse not to be involved in the family financial situation. You both need to understand the issues that you are facing, and make decisions as a team. Financial problems are listed as a major cause of strife in the marriage relationship, and it often starts when one partner is being kept in the dark.
  2. If you have financial problems, seek help before it is too late. Financial problems can be solved but it often means changes, some of which may not be that easy. A qualified financial planner can help you identify the problem areas and think through solutions that will work for your family.

Above all, listen to what God may be saying to you through your financial circumstances. Finances can be a dividing factor in marriage, but they can also bring you together in a new and deeper way, as you trust God together and follow His plan.

If you are willing follow this simple plan and begin to intelligently and prayerfully give away 10% of your income, I believe your financial situation will improve. More importantly, you will be storing up treasures in heaven, which is what really counts. After a few months, please write us and let us know what is happening to your financial position. I have never met an ex-tither and I would love to hear your story as you seek to control your finances and serve God in this way.

Related reading: From Success to Significance – The story of how one man’s obsession with money led him to question everything and led him to God.

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60 Responses to “Money Management for the Christian Family”

  • Chris says:

    liz…sorry to hear of your situation….finances between husband and wife have been a major cause of confict its true. your husband does seem to be demanding too much from you but these things really can only be solved through prayer and asking for Gods intervention. proverbs 31 does teach that women can be very industrious and make their own incomes. the house is in your name legally so you have the law on your side but again the real issue is having God to do some changes in your husband heart since his attitudes are not the right ones. if you would like to find out more on receiving Gods help, log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. i am praying you allow jesus to take control of this situation as you open the door of your heart to him amen

  • Liz says:

    My husband and I have been together for 6 years, married for almost 4. He came from very tumultuous relationships before me with banking issues and he has a history of doing whatever it takes to make sure he comes out on top and leaving his partner in the dirt if he gets angry enough. Between us, we have two sons, our oldest is 13 from one of his previous relationships and he has autism. Our youngest is ours together and is 3 years old. In the beginning I worked and we had separate bank accounts. Our oldest son requires a lot of doctor visits and after our youngest son was born, I began to stay home to care for the house and children, as my husband was able to provide well for us. He had me added to his bank account since I was no longer working, however, he had a tough time managing the account balance, never having had shared an account with anyone before. He would spend and forget to take into account that I went grocery shopping, put gas, payed doctor copays or prescriptions, etc. and we would get close to overdrafting a few times. One day after an argument, he closed the account, moved the money to a new bank with only his name on it. No notice, no warning, nothing. We have argued for the past two years over this. His explanation was that it had nothing to do with my financial responsibility, but that as the man of the household and the sole income, he wants to be in total control of our finances. It worries me and makes me feel very vulnerable. He does make enough to pay our bills, but I get no “allowance” for things I need or want. I have a credit card that I can only use for gas, doctor copays/RXs, emergencies, etc. and I have to let him know before I use it. I never know how much he makes or how much “we” have in the account. Any money leftover in the account, he decides what where and how to “invest” it. I’m told I need to trust him and let him lead like a good wife. My position and argument is that as his wife, I trust in him and follow his lead and care for the home and kids, but as a former working and independent woman, I feel that in a marriage, everything should be a joint effort and responsibility. I feel that both our names should be on our bank account, even if he leads the way he has been. Our vehicles are under both our names because I have the better credit. Our house is solely under my name because I got it two years before we met. However, we are about to close on the sale of this house and he wants the money we make deposited into the account that I’m not on. I’m asking him for me to be added and that we have a clause set up with our bank that neither of us can move money with out the other’s consent. He is furious and now demanding we split the profit on the house and divorce. I don’t want divorce at all! I just want to feel secure, and as it stands, I don’t. Please help. Am I wrong? Do I need to submit and let him lead even though I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure?

  • Chris says:

    Amy…sorry to hear of this situation…proverbs 31 shows us that the married woman can be quite industrious and manage her own income. you say you have a job, that money has been earned by you and is yours to administer how you believe jesus would have you to, taking into consideration the proverbs 31 attitude of a wise and loving wife and mother. 1 Timothy 5.8 shows its the husbands responsability to provide for the basic needs of his family. you can help your husband of course, but that is not your specific callling. 1 Timothy 5.8 is written to any man, a husband. i pray jesus give you his divine wisdom and courage to not be afraid to walk upon the promises and authority of his Word amen

  • Amy says:

    My husband and I have been married five years. We are both Christians and are struggling badly on financial agreement. We have five kids between both of us and both have decent jobs. When it comes down to it though after bills we are left with not a lot especially after child care costs. My husband however feels because he works a physical job he deserves rewards for it a new handgun or new shoes. Meanwhile because of his spending I neglect myself with things I really need. I try so hard when I talk to him to let him know it’s not fair all we do is argue. I’m beyond frustrated and he won’t go to counseling.

  • anthonimuthu says:

    Please full credit froblam money help sar

  • Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Hello Elayne. I am really sorry you are having such a tough time but I do rejoice that in spite of your loss and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding your husband’s illness and death, you are still rejoicing in the Lord and His goodness and mercy rather than allowing yourself to be filled with anxiety and self pity. It is a little difficult for me to grasp completely the depth of the problem because where I live, there would be at least the minimum amount of financial help to make sure you had a roof over your head and sufficient funds to live on. It’s great that God has led you to write a book about your experiences and I am sure it will be used to help and encourage others. Someone to share with you may be a very good idea but your landlord is not being very helpful if you have to pay him more rent. What do you think about looking for a job as a companion to somebody or maybe a housekeeper/nannie to a Christian family who need this kind of help? Sometimes it is possible to travel abroad with this type of set up if you are interested. I would also suggest that you speak to your pastor openly and honestly about your circumstances. He may well have ideas or know of somebody who needs someone just like you to help them. In some ways Elayne, being such a well balanced, adaptable person, the door is wide open for you and so you just need to ask God to show you what His plan and purpose for you are now in your immediate need and also in the long term. Sovereign Lord, we know that we are never too old to be active in Your kingdom. You already know Elayne’s situation and You know the plans You have for her. thank You for Your presence with her and we ask that You would continue to encourage her and show her clearly the way forward so that she may continue to be a faithful disciple. Equip her Lord with all she needs and use her to bless others as she herself is blessed. In Jesus’ precious name we ask. Amen

  • elayne says:

    Hi there. My name is Elayne, I am 65 years old, and I live in Media, PA. I am a member of The Blue Route Vineyard Church here in Media. It is very enjoyable and rewarding serving as the greeter and tithe taker, my being able to always joyfully welcome the beautiful smiles on the faces of our body of Christ. God has blessed me with His mercy, boundless love, kindness and forgiveness, and I feel I always want to give these back to everyone. Recently, I lost my wonderful, 70 year old husband, thus I must seek employment, however since I was always blessed to be able to be a stay-at-home mom, then was blessed to be able to remain at home with my husband, I am a dinosaur in this current, work environment. I had a good career before marriage, but these experiences are way too old for my resume. Also I do not know the necessary computer programming skills, such as WORD, Excel and MS Office. Unfortunately due to many medical bills incurred by my husband, now I cannot afford to take these programs at the local college, nor have I been able to grasp them from the free tutorials on line. I am trying to rent the spare room in my apartment, however finding a woman of high character who wants a room has proven to be a daunting task. Also, my landlord said that should I have a room mate, he will raise my rent by $100 per month. I am sacrificing my privacy for financial relief, and if I have to give my landlord this financial relief, my efforts will be rather moot. Without a job and a roommate, soon I will be homeless as very sadly, my one son, who was a Christian died, and my other son is not a Christian, and he simply has a different take on life. Through all of this, please know that I have no fear, and I am not anxious, my well knowing that everything is within our amazing Lord’s permission. I know that He has a perfect plan for me. Currently, I am writing a autobiography, which completely honors Him. As I have been told, this book is very interesting in that the title and theme started off completely differently. Then one day as I was driving, The Holy Spirit spontaneously led me to my church and for me to speak with my pastor. From this point on, my relationship with Jesus completely changed, and it became amazingly much more personal. You see, I never knew that we could speak to Jesus, and He would speak back to us. I never knew that we could call on Jesus, and he would come. I have learned that the reason He comforts us is not to be comforted, it is so that we know how to comfort others by and through His amazing love. I humbly reach out to you for your prayers that an honorable roommate comes my way very soon, also does employment so I can retain my apartment and my internet, so that I can finish writing my book in the comfort and convenience of my own environment … only if this is His plan. Thank you and God Bless you. Elayne

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Hi Imran Buta, Sorry to hear that you are in financial need. Please beware that this organization does not give money out. However, God know your needs and His word says, “Your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well what you need and he will give it to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.” (Matthew 6:33 LB). In order for the Lord to provide for your needs you first need to believe and trust in Him. Have you? If so, have you been faithful with that which He has already blessed and entrusted to you? Look forward to your reply.

  • imran buta says:

    dear sir&madam

    I m Imran buta from pakistan
    i request you i family problems we need help for money
    i email [it is our policy not to publish personal contact information] you wait email

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi MD Suhaib, what kinds of financial problems do you have? How do you think becoming a Christian will help with those problems?

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