In my conversations with friends about this blog, money has come up as one of the most common recurring points of marital stress. Unfortunately, money problems are also the most common reason couples divorce.
It’s not surprising that money causes such stress. You can’t compartmentalize or ignore it, because it touches every area of your life. Who makes it, and how much is enough? Do you save or spend? What makes a worthwhile expenditure, and what is wasteful or frivolous? How much do you give, and where do you give?
Decisions about where to live, which career paths to pursue, when to have children, and even what to do this weekend are all informed, at least in part, by your finances. This topic is going to take a lot more than one blog post to tackle, but I’ll start with two lessons learned:
1. Making more money isn’t the answer to all of your money problems.
I believed this while Mike was in graduate school, so I essentially held my breath for two and a half years. Yes, there is a level of poverty that causes undue stress, but if you earn enough to pay your bills and neither of you has to sacrifice your health or compromise your values to do so, you’re not in that category. Even enduring a financial storm doesn’t have to drive a wedge between you. Some of the strongest bonds are forged during storms, and unity will be your greatest asset in those times.
Money magnifies everything it touches. If you and your husband handle money well and have an intentional plan for your finances when you don’t have much, more money will bless you. If you are disorganized, wasteful, or willfully in the dark about your finances, more money will slip through your fingers and amplify your current financial habits. Making more money can be a great blessing, and can help you accomplish your goals, but learning to properly handle money is crucial regardless of your income level. The more you have, the more ability it has to bless or hurt you.
2. You don’t have to buy a house or have a baby just because it seems everyone you know is.
We undergo massive and constant change during our 20’s and even into our 30’s. It’s confusing and uncomfortable at times. Engaging with a community of friends and mentors is wise; comparing yourself to everything they do is not. Don’t get swept up in baby fever, house fever, or any other fever. When the fever breaks you’ll feel weak and possibly regretful.
Mike and I try to evaluate our situation by considering God’s Word, logic, gut checks, and wise counsel. For us, we believe it’s the best long term financial decision to become debt free before buying a house, so it doesn’t matter how low interest rates are, how many of our friends are buying, or how old we are. It’s not the right time for us. Maybe now is the right time for you- and if it is, that’s awesome! Go for it and let me know all about it!
Question: Have you been swept up in house fever or baby fever at any point? How did you handle it?