My wife and I are not consistently managing our money well. We are united to eliminate debt so that we can give, save, and invest more. I am looking for tips for the two of us.
Getting on Track Together
Dear Getting On Track Together,
Your goals are great and in the proper order of priority. You can actually give, save, and invest more while also working towards getting out of debt. The journey may be hard, but it will be well worth it.
Lessons from #75Hard
You have probably heard about the 75 Day Hard Challenge or #75Hard. It is for those seeking to build healthy habits and mental toughness. Participants are to follow five rules for 75 days. If you fail on any one day, you must start over from day one. Social media has exploded with photos of people posting their progress. Here’s the challenge:
- Follow a diet: no cheat meals or alcohol allowed.
- Work out twice a day for 45 minutes: one must be outside.
- Drink one gallon of water.
- Read 10 pages of nonfiction: personal development category, no audiobooks allowed.
- Take progress pictures.
Now, if you are the least bit competitive, a financial challenge of any length can be beneficial as well. Whether needing to pay down debt, build emergency savings, or give more generously, repetitive days of healthy practices with money is the method that will ensure good habits that you can both follow.
Suppose you do a 60 Day Financial Hard. It might look like the following:
- Set aside money to give first and save second. Donate and/or deposit this weekly or biweekly.
- Record all income and spending. After 60 days, create a budget, and set specific goals.
- Enroll in an online financial study, facilitate a small group, or work with a budget coach.
- Read three chapters from the Bible and 5-10 pages of a Christian financial book or course.*
- Post your progress so you and your spouse can celebrate your mutual accomplishment daily.
- Money, Possessions, and Eternity: Randy Alcorn.
- Simple Money, Rich Life: Bob Lotich.
- Your Money Made Simple: Russ Crosson.
- Crown Online Bible studies on finances.
Get control of your spending
Getting out of debt and achieving any financial goal that you set will require the discipline to change the way you spend money. The better you are at spending, the better you will be at managing money overall. It takes wisdom and character to become unwilling to spend all that you earn.
When tempted to buy something on an impulse (not in your budget), develop a means to say no. Try turning your shopping cart around, walking out of the store, or closing your computer to gain perspective. Give yourself at least 24 hours to think and pray about it. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b, ESV). So, when tempted to buy something for yourself, choose to give something away instead.
If friends invite you to participate in an activity that costs money, suggest something else, or take a pass. If you cannot influence them to spend wisely, then perhaps you need to pray about who you spend time with. We are often influenced by others, as evidenced by the negative effects of social media and FOMO (fear of missing out).
It is helpful to remember a verse that the Apostle Paul used when warning against idolatry.
Use this verse when confronted with a desire to spend money when you know you should not.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV). That’s comforting!
For a giving challenge, train like a marathoner. For some saving challenges, check out these ideas:
Regular, non-judgmental communication will go a long way in helping you track with your wife. Consider a weekly event such as an old-fashioned walk in the park or a meal out at an affordable restaurant to discuss progress toward your customized 60 Day Financial Hard challenge. Pray about areas where you have challenges meeting your goals, resolve to make needed changes, and press on. After the challenge is complete, keep up the habits that set you on the right track. This can be a life-changing opportunity, so don’t let the Enemy prevent you from making progress!
If trying to steward well, I recommend Squeeze — a trusted Crown partner. The company shops household bills to bring you the lowest rates and best deals. Savings are quick and can last a lifetime. Sign up for free, and squeeze your first bill in under five minutes.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.