We Ain’t Got Money
By Van Walton
“She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard...” Proverbs 31:16 (NLT)
After dating for a couple of years my college sweetheart and I inevitably set our sights toward our future. Dreams of marriage increasingly consumed our conversations. We faced a major obstacle though. As full-time students, we had no money. After many discussions, we decided to marry anyway. Months later we found ourselves standing before the minister saying, “I do.”
My husband earned a scholarship and my dad agreed to pay for one more year of my college, laying a solid foundation for us. We had to make the rest work. Neither one of us is an accountant, or majored in finance, but our simple debt-free guidelines worked and they can be followed by anyone.
1. Stick to an agreed-upon budget. Entertainment, eating out, expensive vacations, “toys,” and gadgets, did not make it onto our financial plan. I remember having no cake pans to bake a birthday cake for my husband that first year. “Pans” did not appear on our budget. We did without.
2. Do not purchase anything on credit. Credit cards were not an option during those early years of our marriage! We had no choice: no cash, no purchase!
3. Title each month. At least a tenth of our income is given to the church.
4. Save a portion of the monthly income. Set aside a percentage that is never to be touched. It is the basis for interest-earning, long-term savings. Another percentage is set aside for large purchases like a washer, dryer, or pieces of furniture. It took us 6 years on dual income with no children to save the necessary cash for a comfortable down payment on a house.
We opted to do without many things, but we had peace of mind. We didn’t buy all the latest gadgets, but our lives were stress-free. We only drove one car for many years, saving on payments and car insurance, which forced us to communicate and cooperate and taught us the value of compromise. Those early years helped us to develop good financial habits.
Once our sons began to understand the power of money, we developed a few more guidelines.
1. Impulse buying is not allowed. We discussed what we would buy before shopping events. We practiced intentional buying, not wishful shopping. Once there, if something caught our eye, we could not purchase it. We had to go home and wait two weeks. If, at the end of two weeks, we could justify the purchase, then we could return and make that purchase.
2. Window shopping is not a family activity. Walking in the mall and other activities that can set one up for discontentment or temptation has never been a part of our family’s regular activities. Instead we play games, visit friends, participate in church programs, and enjoy local sights like museums or parks.
3. Regularly review and evaluate spending habits. One year we decided to forgo eating out. Another year we resolved to allow all our magazine subscriptions to lapse. We saved lots of money, dollars which we had pledged to our church’s building fund.
Americans have access to so much of the world’s money and, for some reason in our overwhelmingly self-absorbed state, we feel we have to spend, spend, spend, leading directly to a life of discontent and debt. This two-edged sword not only stresses relationships, it steals from evangelical progress. What would happen if we carefully evaluated our drive to splurge? Properly funded, possibly the church could make wide-spread changes on the face of the earth. We could reach out and change poverty, improve education, touch the suffering in meaningful ways, and ultimately enrich our very own souls.
Dear Lord, You've provided me with blessings far and above what most of the world experiences. Help me to be responsible with the gifts You have given me. I want to remain faithful to You and my neighbors, making wise choices with my finances. I ask for Your guidance and wisdom, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
For sound financial resources and advice, visit the Dave Ramsey website.
work@home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work from Home by Glynnis Whitwer
Do You Know Him?
However painful and uncomfortable it might be, chart your spending for three months. Find areas where you can completely cut back. Either give that money away, use it to pay off a credit card, or set it aside until you have saved enough for your next big purchase.
Am I comfortable with my financial habits?
Does my family’s financial picture honor and glorify God?
Ecclesiastes 5:10-11, “Those who love money will never have enough…. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers?” (NLT)
1Timothy -19, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God… Instruct them… to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future…” (NASB)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 07 August 2007.