Money autobiography

By Matt DeBall

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Crossovers always have the potential to be energizing and enjoyable. Sometimes they happen on our favorite TV show or in a beloved movie series (special shout out to fellow fans of DC Comics or Marvel). Other times they happen in real life. For your edification, a crossover is happening on the COMPASS blog this week.

This month COMPASS has focused on our relationship with money and invited us to explore this relationship by writing a money autobiography. Marcia Shetler began unpacking this helpful tool and Beryl Jantzi helped us consider four categories that reveal our approach to money, debt management, and generosity. What follows in this blog are a handful of questions and answers related to my money autobiography (that can also help you write your own). A wonderful CROSSOVER has occurred because I didn’t answer these questions alone.

In February, COMPASS explored how essential it is to talk about money with loved ones, live-chat-wedding-rings-image-copyand Rafael Robert from Brightpeak Financial led a great Live Chat about money, marriage, and meaningful conversations. Connecting those conversations with our topic for this month, my lovely wife, Chelsea, has joined me in answering the money autobiography questions below. We answered these questions individually and talked about our answers afterward. While we have different relationships with money, it is our relationship with money together that shapes how we manage our finances. This money autobiography process proved to be meaningful for us, but also allows you to hear two different relationships with money that contribute to our money autobiography. We hope you will find this blog to be as meaningful and helpful as we did.

Question: Describe the role of money in your childhood. What was your attitude toward money as a child? Did you feel poor or rich? How did your perceptions make you feel?

Chelsea: Growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot in terms of money. But they never let us know or feel that strain. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized that we were somewhat poor for a lot of our childhood.

Matt: Money served different functions in my childhood. It paid for food at the grocery store. It was the two quarters that my parents gave me each week to put in the offering plate. It was how people supported my Boy Scout troop through buying popcorn. Money was just around. I didn’t feel like my family was rich or poor—just average. My parents taught us to be thankful for what we had and they didn’t talk much about money in front of us.

Q: What was your attitude about money as a teenager? What memories do you have related to money?

C: As a teenager I was obsessed with making money. I had two jobs through most of high dollar-1362243_1280school. I loved having my own money to spend on what I wanted.

M: Money was a means to have fun. It allowed me to buy snacks and games, and participate in activities with friends.

Q: In your current situation, how have other sources shaped your thoughts about money?

C: Nothing has really shaped my thoughts about money. I appreciate it more now that I am an adult with actual expenses to pay for.

M: Society at large and media has influenced me to see some debts as good (homes, college degrees) and other debts as bad (credit card). The church has helped me see money as a tool that God gives us to meet our needs and to carry out His purposes in the world.

Q: How do you feel about your present financial status? Do you worry about money? How does having or not having money affect self-esteem or sense of self-worth?

C: I do worry about money. Mostly because there are things I’d like to be able to buy (a new car) or do (remodel our home) but our financial status keeps us from doing that. Not having as much money as some of my peers does affect my self-esteem. I do find myself getting jealous of those who can buy nice houses, go on vacation, or stay home with their children instead of having to work.

M: I feel proactive and content about our current financial situation. I very rarely worry about money (only when large bills are paid right before a payday). Though I wouldn’t consider it a large factor in my self-esteem or self-worth, our money providing for our needs does have a positive effect on me.

Q: Do you spend money on yourself easily or with difficulty?coffee-1273147_1280

C: I used to be able to spend money on myself with no problems. But recent life events
have made me think more before I make a purchase for myself.

M: Somewhat easily for things under $10 (coffee, lunch, a book), but hesitantly for anything else.

Q: Do you feel generous or stingy with your money?

C: I am generous in terms of gift giving, but I know I am stingy with money. I would hesitate greatly before loaning someone money.

M: It depends on the day, but I typically feel more generous.

Q: Do you give to your church or other charitable organizations? Why do/don’t you give? How does this make you feel?

C: Yes, we give to our church. At first I was very reluctant to do so because I didn’t want to give away our money. But now I am more comfortable with donating to our church.

M: Yes. I like to give because it is an opportunity to show love to God and support God’s important work in the world. Giving makes me feel happy and like I am being faithful to God’s call to give.

Q: How do you feel about asking other people for money…for yourself, a worthy cause, your church community, etc.?gift-1278395_1280

C: I am very hesitant asking people for money. I never want anyone to feel obligated to
give to me based on our relationship and I wouldn’t want my asking for money to affect our relationship.

M: It would make me uncomfortable to ask for money for myself. For my work, I am a fundraiser, and because I believe in the ministries of our organization, I am comfortable with asking people to support them.

Q: Consider the following idea: how you handle money reflects your deepest values. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

C: I agree. What we spend our money on may reflect what we care about the most or what we consider a priority in our lives.

M: Agree because of Matthew 6:21, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When we spend money on anything, it reveals what is important to us.

Q: What future hopes or plans do you have with money?

C: I hope that we are able to continually support ourselves financially. Being independent financially is a great feeling.

M: I hope we can plan to pay off our debts, save for retirement, increase our savings for unexpected emergency circumstances, and increase our giving to church as we are able. I also plan to open savings accounts for our kids early in their lives to prepare for their needs and aspirations in the future.

In addition to answering these questions for your own money autobiography, you can learn more about this helpful tool on Tuesday, May 30 at 8 p.m. ET at our next Live Chat “Your relationship with money” led by Mike Little, director for the Faith and Money Network. Sign up while spots are still available at marcia_5.gr8.com.

About the Authors

C&MDeBall-9-15Chelsea and Matt DeBall live in northern Illinois. Chelsea works as office coordinator for a Special Recreation Association, and is pursuing a Master’s of Mental Health Counseling from Judson University. Matt serves as the COMPASS communications coordinator for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center and as coordinator of Donor Communications for the Church of the Brethren. He has an MDiv from Northern Seminary. They enjoy caring for their Welsh Corgi (Watson) and being involved at the First Baptist Church of Aurora.

Photo credits: 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