The first week or so of January I did the post-Christmas cinch. Not of the belt around my too full turkey belly, but of the ol’ purse strings. You know the game plan, stick to the leftovers, no eating out. If it isn’t 100% necessary don’t buy it, or better yet, just don’t go to the store so you don’t feel tempted. If you have gift cards, it is fine to use them, but don’t get hooked on that spending satisfaction, because remember you’re a responsible adult who has the ability to brew and drink her own coffee for 5 dollars less a cup than Starbucks.
Early in our marriage, I told Kermit to let me do the bills, rolling my eyes at his stress from the previous months. I’d show him how to pay bills. I wrote all the checks at once and learned a really fast and hard lesson that I shouldn’t be in charge of that household duty. Math ain’t my thing. Math that equals our living a lifestyle that involves electricity and eating at the same time isn’t in my wheelhouse. So, I happily turned that task back over to him.
This works for us. The point of this post is not that this is the only way or even the best way that couples should handle these matters. Even if it isn’t your method of money management in your marriage, this is how we do it.
He keeps me updated. I do have a general idea of what we can and can’t afford and what our spending goals are. There will be a time once a year that I will start trying to work our budget in my head without him. I can whip myself into a real frenzy and will generally start texting him in a panic about all the things I’m afraid of. Those times end with him sitting me down, explaining how we’re ok and doing a lot of math in front of me while I nod my head wide eyed.
I hadn’t quite reached that point last week, but I just had the general feeling that because we’d just spent money in a way that is outside of our typical spending habits, I needed to reign it in. And when I reign things in, I always tighten things up in the grocery department. It is the easiest place to eliminate wants and stick to the necessities. I was getting complaints about the lack of grab and go foods available at the house. I was fielding critique about how sick and tired the short people in my house were with eating at home.
So on the drive home from wrestling practice, I called Kermit to ask him to look at the bank balance and let me know where we stood. (Don’t check bank balances and drive, y’all. Not safe.) I wanted to know if when I went to Food Lion on the way home, I should be prepared to shop like regular or if I needed to pick up the ingredients for wish sandwiches. He checked and told me where we stood. “Wait…what?” I replied.
As it turned out, we were fine. In fact, we had far more than I anticipated. Not Rockefeller money by any stretch of the imagination, but all that time I was packing old granola bars that the kids hate, I could have bought the good ones. I was pinching pennies when I could have put a little chili on my potato at the Wendy’s drive thru, ya know.
Almost immediately I thought this.
How many of us are living like we’re broke as a joke where our faith is concerned?
We’ve just come through a big season of blessing, of remembering what God has done for us, of making extra time for Him in our lives, of giving the gift of ourselves freely and joyfully and then we pull back. We hedge our bets. We cinch our purse strings.
We have no idea what is in our spiritual bank and instead of taking time to reassess where we are, to login in on our own and keep a good watchful eye on our balance, we just decide we’re on the verge of bankruptcy and we grasp at control? We are tight when we could relax. We are feeding ourselves old granola bars that we hate instead of the good stuff that God is offering us.
This comparison only goes so far though, because where God is concerned, we’re not talking Kind Bar money. We’re talking full time private chef money. We’re talking dietician on call 24/7. We’re talking a nutritionist who knows what our body needs at all times. We’ve got incredible richness available to us. We don’t need to cinch our spirit strings.
Can I encourage you to look at 2019 and see that you are seated at a banquet table? Can I challenge you to look at your account daily, to take stock of how your funds are? And can I invite you to invest in what God is invested in?
Be in His Word. Not “be in His memes.” Not “be in the top 5 passages that you think of occasionally.” Not “be in books about His Word” (though those are good tools.)
About a year and a half ago, I rediscovered the hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” I love the words which say “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word. What more can He say than to you He has said?”
If you are relying on what you read in the Bible when you were growing up or what someone told you was in the Bible, but you haven’t bothered to look for yourself, you are eating old granola bars when you could be getting fresh ones.
Pray without ceasing. You have the financial adviser on call 24/7. There is no reason to worry that you are going to bring about your own ruin, if you are running all your purchases through Him.
And this isn’t some financial adviser that you found on the internet and you have to pay to get advice from. This is like having your husband in charge of your books. He is deeply invested in caring for you, in providing for you, in making sure that you stay afloat. He’s not going to charge you for looking out for you. He loves you. Don’t hold off a conversation with Him that could let you know that everything is not just ok, but better than ok.
Keep a record. When I started taking classes, one of the assignments which is a part of every class is to keep a journal. I journaled in college. I wrote my prayers down and recorded where I saw my prayers answered. But when I left college I gave up the practice. Getting back into the habit has been invaluable.
What better way to keep tabs on where you are spiritually than to write down all the deposits and investments, where you overspent and your plans to get back on track? Being purposeful in the practice of examining your spending habits and keeping documentation will help you be more aware of what you can and can’t afford. It will also help you to identify where there is piles of wealth just laying around you waiting to be picked up.
I am hopeful that this year I will see the glory of God through the abundance of His richness waiting for me, ready for me to receive it if I will open my hands. I am so excited to live 2019 like a kid splashing about in a fountain filled with glittering coins, in awe of all the extravagance all around me. I am ready to quit eating leftovers and to eat every meal tucked right up to the banquet table savoring the goodness of God.
❤ Happy 2019, y’all. I hope to see you at the feast.