Step 4: Put It All Together
In our series on finding financial clarity, we’ve taken three key steps to better stewardship:
1.) The ownership of your written net worth statement (all assets minus all liabilities) has been prayerfully returned to their proper owner – God! When we reset our minds to one of stewardship, we can more clearly see the accountability in our actions and trust the ultimate outcome to God’s provision.
2.) With a better alignment to God, we have renewed our focus on one of God’s special provisions to married couples: the wisdom and insight of our spouse. Within the covenant of marriage God has provided a partner who is attracted to our honesty. This offers a unique perspective and someone who can be a steady prayer partner.
3.) We have organized a budget with five broad categories that promote stewardship: Savings, Spending, Giving, Debt and Taxes. Wild imbalances in these percentages are red flags, as are allocations that don’t line up with your values.
Now it’s time to put it all together! Most financial stress can be traced back to your net worth statement, communication within your marriage, and your daily money choices as reflected by your budget.
So how often should you review this?
You should review this as frequently as it takes to keep a stewardship mindset, but not so frequently that money becomes an idol in your life. Stay prayerfully balanced! If you find yourself in a financially challenging situation, remember that God’s restoration may be completely unrecognizable to us if we’ve grown accustomed to our brokenness.
Recall the response of the invalid man at the pool at Bethesda. When Jesus asked the man who had been sick for 38 years, “Do you want to be healed?” the response was not an immediate “YES!” Even with Christ standing directly in front of him, eager and ready to heal, the sick man’s response was to blame the circumstance of why he was not already well. (John 5:1-17)
As we begin to obey God’s commands and implement the strategies outlined in this series, we’ll begin to bear the fruit of obedience.
The truth of God’s word and His wisdom on finances will never change, but we will find that daily conversations about a money crisis may no longer be needed. Even as a financial planner, I would agree that there are far more interesting things to discuss than money.
In order to ‘Put it All Together,’ set a practical review schedule to remain faithful in your stewardship.
While reconciling your weekly expenses, be sure to share your concerns with your spouse. Online budgeting tools are helpful, but the ‘unclassified’ category will create a budgeting black hole. Fish all those loose receipts out of your pockets and enter them in your tracking tool of choice. When done frequently, this will take no more than 10 minutes. Then look ahead to the next week and ask your spouse, “Which financial actions do we need to take to glorify God?”
A 30-Minute Monthly Budget Review
This is the best way to see if your planned expenses continue to align with your actual budget. Update your debt-payoff calendar if paying off debt is necessary. Confirm that payments have been received for all the bills you owe. If you’re in the surplus, consider where can you be a blessing next month? If you’re negative, what can you cut to get back on track?
On an Annual Basis
Reaffirm long-term financial goals, review legal titles and beneficiaries, confirm tithing and giving matches changes to income. Review investment accounts, check insurance policies and pull credit reports for both spouses. Split these tasks into quarterly reviews (e.g. check one of the three credit agencies per quarter and on the final quarter review your insurances).
Commit to storing these files in a digital or physical location each spouse can access. This will aid in transparency, efficiency in the review, and quick access in the event of an emergency.
In just an hour a month and an extra 30 minutes each quarter, you and your spouse can be proactive in allocating financial resources without feeling suffocated by talking about money at every family meal.
Recall our aim – to glorify God with what He has entrusted to us, and to bring unity within our marriage to reflect the commitment and love He has for His church.
Jesus commands us, “Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven” or commonly restated as “an invest in God’s kingdom” (Matthew 6:20). Yet, the very next command Jesus gives is, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.” (Matthew 6:25) Let us take the assets we have today and find ways to advance God’s kingdom.
By Alan Morgan