Money, marriage, and faith

By Matt DeBall

When my wife, Chelsea, and I were preparing two-2042416_1280-copyfor marriage, our church asked us to
participate in a pre-marriage counseling course. This included meeting with a more experienced married couple who could mentor us. Many topics were discussed through seven learning sessions and four or more mentor meetings, but conversations that I remember most now were about managing money together. In particular, Chelsea and I learned about how each of us view money, and our mentors shared that the earlier we started to save money for the future, the better.

Because of how values, memories, and emotions surround money, it’s no wonder that managing money in marriage is important to get right—to care for one another and plan your lives together. Thankfully scripture offers at least three helpful insights for handling money together as a couple.

1. “For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, NIV).
bicycle-1868162_1280-copy
These words of Jesus are important when considering offerings to the church, but are also relevant for personal finance. Do you or your partner enjoy reading books or magazines? These are likely to be included in your expenses. Do either of you enjoy biking, camping, fishing, or skiing? How about baking, painting, sewing, or woodworking? Money will surely be spent on items to carry out these interests. As a couple plans their financial present and future together, it is important to budget and plan for life-giving hobbies together. Talking regularly about money and special interests allows each person to feel loved and appreciated—both for being able to participate in desired activities and feeling respected by knowing about special purchases.

 2. Whoever loves money never has enough;… This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). There’s no doubt that money is essential in life, but it isn’t most important. Though conversations and planning may difficult for a couple that has one partner who is primarily a “saver” while the other is primarily a “spender,” at the end of the day, your love for one another will surpass your love for anything else, including money. Keeping your love for one another in focus while talking about money will help you work together and care for each other regardless of how much money is in your bank account.

couple-1838940_1280-copy3. “Be content with what you
have, 
because God has said,
‘Never will I leave you;
never
will I forsake you’”(Hebrews 13:5).
Finding contentment together and trusting God can improve any financial situation. Trusting God with your finances and regularly acknowledging that God provides for your family will help you keep money in the right focus.

Prayer is a good practice that reminds us to trust in God, especially when money is involved. You may consider praying the following prayer together before future money discussions:

Loving and generous God,
Thank you for all that we have. We are grateful that you have met all of our needs and continue to provide for us. Please bless this conversation about money and help us to be good stewards of what you have given us—for our good and your glory.
In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

What scriptures help you manage personal finances?

About the Author

m-deball-9-2016Matt DeBall is the COMPASS Communications Coordinator for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. He also serves as Coordinator of Donor Communications for the Church of the Brethren. He has an MDiv from Northern Seminary of Lombard, Illinois and a BA in Communication Arts from Judson University of Elgin, Illinois. He loves running, reading, and napping. He and Chelsea live in Northern Illinois with their Welsh Corgi, Watson, and attend the First Baptist Church of Aurora.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you’ve read? Visit the COMPASS web page, follow us on Twitter, and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

Image credits: pixabay.com

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Money, Marriage, and Meaningful Conversations

By Belinda Bassene

FriendshipLife is busy. Calendars fill up fast.
To-Do lists are created. In the midst of the chaos, conversations with our spouses are happening….

When are we going to do the laundry?

Should we get a dog? What kind?

Are we ready to buy a house?

I don’t feel like making dinner; shall we get take-out?

As these exchanges are happening, we may find ourselves desiring more when it comes to our conversations. It truly is difficult to pause for meaningful chats, let alone around topics that are hard to talk about. Especially money.

If you find yourself having a hard time talking about money, you are not alone. According to studies, almost 70% of couples argue about money.

Let’s beat that statistic and create a new normal: one where 70% of couples are confident when having meaningful conversations about money.

Here are 5 tips to get you started:

1. Don’t Avoid Itlm_blog_3-things-to-do-when-saving-money

This seems like common sense. However, Lab42 conducted an online survey of 1,000 people in October of 2015 and discovered 77% of Americans actually avoid talking about money. And according to our Love & Money Project partner, Dr. Sonya Britt of Kansas State University, the risk of divorce for those who disagree about money frequently, increases by almost 70%. So, if we know money has the power to break-up marriages, let’s not avoid talking about it! Take a step towards financial strength and a happier marriage by beginning the conversation about money.

But where do we start?

lm_blog_5-ways-to-prevent-the-biggest-money-mistakes2. Ask Questions

It is easy to assume that we know so much about the person we are spending the rest of our lives with. Yet, as we work with couples we see that many have no idea what each other thinks about money. They don’t know their story. Here are a few questions to explore this topic together:

What do you believe to be true about money?

  • Whether they are actually true or not, we all have beliefs about money. These ideas were created before we even realized and we carry them with us through our entire life. Examine together how these beliefs play out in each of your lives individually, as well as in your relationship.

What is your earliest memory of money?thinking-277071_1280

  • Pause to learn this about one another, and reflect on how it plays out in your own life.
    You’ll be surprised to see how it continues to show up in your life.

How do you feel about money?

  • Take time to share what makes you feel confident or anxious. Share what creates a sense of freedom when it comes to money. As you reflect on this, you may find that you have more feelings about money than you ever realized.

3. Use “Yes, and…”

Implement a common communication and improv comedy rule by using the words “yes, and.” When we use “yes, and” instead of “yes, but,” we naturally begin to build solutions and possibilities together instead of tearing one another down. Try this tip out in your next conversation. You’ll be amazed where the dialogue can go!

4. Schedule Time to Talklm_blog_how-to-nurture-your-spouses-love-styles-and-money-styles_final

This will assist in not avoiding the conversation. We’ve already talked about how full our calendars can be, so hold a spot to make meaningful conversations a priority. You may want to check in quarterly, every month, or even every other week. Find the best cadence for your life together.

5. Offer Generosity and Gratitude Every Day

At some point in your day, take a moment to identify what you are grateful for and how
you’ve experienced or offered generosity. This comes in especially helpful when you are feeling lm_blog_what-the-bible-says-and-doesnt-sayfrustrated and it can completely change your conversations because it changes your heart. Crazy, right?! Try it. I dare you.

Tackle the money talk in a meaningful way. You’ve got this. Check out more to strengthen your relationship in love and money at www.loveandmoney.com.

About the Author

Belinda Bassene is a part of The Love & Money Project, an initiative of brightpeak financial helping couples and families grow stronger together by improving their relationship with money. When she isn’t passionately talking about love and money you may find her kayaking or planning a party. She resides in Minneapolis with her family.

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Join us tonight at 8 p.m. ET for this month’s COMPASS Live Chat  led by staff from brightpeak financial. Join with the following link. stewardshipresources.adobeconnect.com/compasschat217

Photo credits: loveandmoney.com, pixabay.com

Money, marriage, and the world of millennials

By Beryl Jantzi
couple-1853996_1280-copyThere are a number of good resources currently available for pastors to use when working with couples getting ready for marriage. One of my favorite inventories to use with couples when I was in congregational ministry was PREPARE/ENRICH. One of the 13 categories assessed in the inventory provided by PREPARE/ENRICH inventory is Financial Management.

PREPARE/ENRICH recently hosted a webinar by The Love & Money Project, an initiative of brightpeak financial committed to helping young Christian couples grow stronger around the topic of money. The Love & Money Project shared a resource for couples they have developed entitled, Better Halves, which is for engaged or married couples wanting to work at enhancing their relationship and their ability to talk about money. Better Halves Workshop, is a fun and fast paced, 3 hour training, that includes 12 modules of experiential learning and Better Halves Small Group is a 6 session program for couples to do together.

Besides promoting this new curriculum, the webinar included five revealing trends related to the new reality of money, marriage and millennials.

Five new realities concerning money, marriage and millennials

1) Millennials are getting married later in life

  • In 1956 the average age of women getting married was 20.1 and 22.5 for men.
  • In 2016 the average age for women getting married is 27.1 for men it is 29.2.
  • One of the reasons identified for waiting longer is that individuals do not feel financially prepared to get married.
  • 66% of persons surveyed with in the age range of 18-35 were not married but most hoped to be married one day.
  • Living with parents is the most common living arrangement for individuals in the 18-35 age range. For many, this is a necessity due to financial constraints which do not allow them to live on their own.

2) Cohabitation is on the increase

PREPARE/ENRICH has determined that couples that live together, have a greater chance of splitting up than couples who get married. As part of the research they have conducted over the years, they identify couples as fitting into one of several categories from conversation-799448_1280-copyConflicted to Vitalized.

  • 21% of cohabitating, dating couples were identified as Vitalized. However, 51% of dating couples NOT living together were viewed as Vitalized
  • 48% of cohabitating, dating couples were identified as Conflicted, compared to 16% of couples who were not living together.

Studies have shown that a public wedding ceremony offers extra benefits for a couple. In many cases a wedding is preceded with pre-marriage counseling that provides opportunities for conversation with a third party to address current and future relationship issues. Couples that cohabitate do not typically have the benefit of these conversations. There is the show of public support at a public wedding ceremony as well as the offering of gifts, financial and other wise, to help the couple get established in their home. These tangible and intangible expressions of support are not to be taken for granted.

3) Cost of weddings

The average cost of a wedding in 2015 was $26,000. Along with this, weddings are bouquet-1854074_1280-copybecoming increasingly spectacular in nature which creates pressure for others to do the
same.

In 2014, Emory University economics professors Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, conducted a survey of couples and the increasing cost of weddings. They surveyed more than 3,000 people–all of whom have been married just once–and found that across income levels, the higher the cost of the wedding, the shorter your marriage will be. A few takeaways from their research:

  • Guys, spending $2,000 to $4,000 on an engagement ring means you’re 1.3 times more likely to get divorced compared with the more frugal fellows who only allocate $500 to $2,000.
  • For both sexes, spending more than $20,000 on the wedding increases the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples who keep it between $5,000 and $10,000.
  • For the best odds, keep the cost of festivities to less than $1,000.

4) The new bread winner

Women for the first time are graduating from working-1219889_1280-copycollege at a greater rate than men. As a
result of women becoming more educated than
men, they are also earning more than used to be the case. From 2000-2014 the average wages for men has gone down by 34% (adjusted for inflation) while the average wage for women has increased. This means that more women are becoming the primary income earner in many millennial homes. This is good news that wages for women is on the increase and but it is also a recognition of a change that is happening within culture and the church.

5) Student loans

In 2015 the average student loan owed by college graduates was at a new high of $35,000. This has implications for all the categories listed above. As a result, it will take millennials longer to get established and become independent from parents as well as being able to purchase a home, save for retirement, and start a family.

These are sobering realities which call for us in the church to encourage honest and open conversations with millennials as well as the upcoming generation about finances and the longer ranging impact it has on our lives. If you are interested in resources that can be used to assist with these conversations, feel free to reach out to me at beryl.jantzi@everence.com.

About the Author

Beryl Jantzi and familyBeryl Jantzi serves as Director of Stewardship Education for Everence, a Christian-based, member-owned financial services organization which is a ministry of Mennonite Church USA and other churches.

Photo credits: pixabay.com

Money, Marriage, and Millennials: Significant Relationships, Important Roles, Meaningful Conversations

rose-1215314_1280By Marcia Shetler

Ah, February! The shortest month of the year. The time when we begin to believe that spring might be right around the corner. And when there is a day designated to celebrate and appreciate the significant others in our lives.

How couples view and manage money has an impact on the health of their relationships. Conventional wisdom says that a quick way to squelch a happy occasion with your partner is to raise the subject of money. However, recent reports and studies indicate that may be changing. A 2016 survey by Ameriprise Financial found that 77% of couples are in basic agreement about their finances. And there’s even better news for Millennial couples: a 2016 Chase Bank Generational Money Talks Study shows that they are much more comfortable having conversations about money, thanks to more openness of their Boomer parents to discuss money with their children as opposed to earlier generations.

The Chase study also indicates that Millennials understand the important role money plays in their lives. It reports that 78% of Millennials follow a budget, 77% say that they adult-1807617_1280-copyhave confidence to make complex financial decisions, and 64% are optimistic about their financial future. Timothy Siburg, who is a Millennial, a member of the COMPASS Steering Committee, and a frequent contributor to this blog, has shared examples of how he and his wife Allison personify these statistics. They make regular, meaningful conversations about money a priority, such as their monthly pancake breakfasts to discuss their finances.

So Millennials, give yourselves a collective fist bump, high five, or pat on the back. This month, the COMPASS Initiative will give you more ideas and great content to make those important money conversations even better. Each week new articles here on the COMPASS blog will provide practical ideas, personal reflections, and spiritual insights. Follow our Twitter feed and join us on Facebook all month long for great curated content. And view our resources on the COMPASS web page for even more help and guidance. Add your questions and comments to make for an even more enriching exchange of ideas!

live-chat-wedding-rings-image-copyFinally, you won’t want to miss this month’s COMPASS Live Chat on Monday, February 20, 8 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain, 5 p.m. Pacific. Staff from brightpeak financial will share some great ideas for making your money conversations even more meaningful. Just connect to the Chat on February 20 with this link: stewardshipresources.adobeconnect.com/compasschat217

Stewarding our God-given relationships and resources is one of our most essential responsibilities as followers of Jesus. The COMPASS Steering Committee and I look forward to engaging with you as we meet each other on Facebook, Twitter, and at our Live Chat!

About the Author

marcia shetlerMarcia Shetler is Executive Director/CEO of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. She holds an MA in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, a BS in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University, and a Bible certificate from Eastern Mennonite University. She formerly served as administrative staff in two middle judicatories of the Church of the Brethren, and as director of communications and public relations for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana, an administrative faculty position. Marcia’s vocational, spiritual, and family experiences have shaped her vision and passion for faithful stewardship ministry that recognizes and celebrates the diversity of Christ’s church and the common call to all disciples to the sacred practice of stewardship. She enjoys connecting, inspiring, and equipping Christian steward leaders to transform church communities.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS Initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page, follow us on Twitter, and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

Image credits: pixabay.com