Finances. If there’s one thing married couples argue about, it’s this. There’s not enough; one wants to save, the other spend. One grew up thinking about it one way, the other a different way. In the world we live in now it is imperative to be using our financial intelligence, or we will find ourselves drowning in a sea of debt and consumerism.
What is financial intelligence anyway?
You might think I’m going to talk about investing, but actually I want to talk about four mindset shifts that are important to make so that we can lay a good foundation in this area, and move from poverty into abundance.
Living Below Our Means
I grew up in what I would call a middle-class home, where it was not normal to use a credit card; they were reserved for serious emergencies. Our family didn’t go without, but we were very thrifty, and our parents were wise with their money, which meant they were able to pay their home off early and continue to save.
My husband watched his parents struggling with credit card debt at an early age and so determined that he wouldn’t have one; and it’s been a decision that has served him and I well. (His parents were able to pay down that debt and are now able to be so incredibly generous and thoughtful about how they use their money).
Even so, we haven’t ever had a budget, something that we’ve to and fro-ed about over the course of our marriage, and spent money that probably could have been better saved. Thankfully we’ve been able to pay cash for our vehicles and begin saving towards a deposit for a home loan. Even in seasons where we were told that we were living below the poverty line, we were able to somehow miraculously save.
One other tidbit that my husband shared with me is that he works hard all week to provide for our family and he needs to be able to put some of that money towards a creative outlet in his shed.
Now he’s not wasting it, and possibly it will even go on to make more money, but for me to insist it all gets saved hasn’t been helpful. He’s always got a creative idea on the go, making rocket stoves, 3D printed parts or upcycling random stuff into a machine that would have cost several thousand dollars to buy. By me allowing him freedom in this area, albeit with accountability he’s been able to start several YouTube Channels and create several inventions.
Maybe this is an area that you are husband need to discuss? Whether that’s a shed, or computer programming or this new thing called BitCoin, maybe you need to set an amount that your husband can experimentally invest with? Or maybe it’s you who needs a bit of leeway to experiment with?
Erin Odom’s book, More Than Just Making It, has been a great tool for getting positive financial conversations going between my husband and I, and setting up accounts for personal spending allowances, business and other, and we are making steps towards a budget.
Erin has practical advice for both decreasing expenditure AND increasing income, along with a powerful testimony of how God has redeemed her family from barely scraping by and bankruptcy, woven through the book. Her story is packed full of both God’s provision and ways to be wise with your finances. It’s a book about budgeting you can actually enjoy!
If you’re feeling really stuck in debt, Christians Against Poverty is a fantastic organisation that can help you not only work out a budget, but practically help you with food, bills and debt collectors if there is literally nothing left.
God’s Provision & Seasons
Another financial mindset that we need to look at is that of a poverty mindset.
God has given principles in His Word of how to move out of this and yet there are seasons where He will have us totally dependant on Him, and seasons where He wants us to work hard, use diligence and wisdom in our finances.
I think a few stories to illustrate here would be helpful as we don’t often hear about how seasons work into our finances.
In 2006 when I was 14, I went to Papua New Guinea with my Dad on a mission trip that changed my life, as I learnt to hear from God. As would be expected at that age, Dad paid for the trip.
In 2010 I was struggling with a lot of decisions and hearing from God and really felt that I needed to get back to Papua New Guinea away from the noise in my life to learn how to hear God again. The same team I’d been with in 2006 was going over again and things quickly came together for the trip.
I’d saved up $3,000 from working a few different jobs that I’d been planning to put towards our wedding, but my parents had asked us to postpone it because they didn’t feel I was ready. (Story for another day) That $3,000 exactly covered the trip, but there was no wriggle room and I had to be incredibly careful with the money and even length of phone calls.
When I returned home, I had definitely learned how to hear from God again, and I also didn’t feel the timing was right for a wedding, but that I was to go back to PNG again in a few months time. The only problem was that I had NO MONEY left.
I tried my hardest to get a job, even working at a restaurant where God had said not to . . . which was the first and only job I got fired from as I mixed up all the bar orders. No other jobs were forthcoming in our small town and the countdown was on for when I had to have the money in for the trip.
Finally a job came forth for which the interview sounded very promising, but that same day, I had a phone call from someone who was willing to pay for half the trip back to PNG. I had to make a quick decision as to whether I would go back or take the job, even though I would still have to come up with half the money. I really felt God calling me back to PNG, and very quickly the money came in for the rest of the trip; actually even more than I needed, enough for long phone calls with my boyfriend/ now husband.
When I came home I fell into a full time job within two weeks because it was the right season. Sometimes God has to prove to us that He can care for us even despite our best efforts. The provision from that job, partly went towards publishing my first book, Dad and Me in PNG.
Diligence in Provision
My husband had a similar experience where God had given him a job, but he hated it and so quit because he and his family, were going on a mission trip in a few months time. However they were quite short of the money for the trip, and had to sell some antiques to make up the money. He later worked out that they were short the amount that he would have been paid had he stayed in the job.
Other times his family has had money appear in their wallets at the airport. I’m yet to go on a mission trip with him or them but it will certainly be interesting!
Sometimes God provides miraculously and other times He asks to partner with Him and work for it or raise it. This whole journey is about hearing His voice.
When my husband got home from that trip God quite literally told him ‘it was time to get a haircut and a real job’. That job turned into an apprenticeship which turned into him topping the state several times for the excellence of his work. Ten years later that has now turned into him working full time and being able to produce an excellent product for sale on the side, because God is growing in us a desire to be able to give into the Kingdom for missions.
Another book that really talks about balancing God’s supernatural provision with diligence, in every of life is ‘While You Are Waiting’ by Melody Barker, a certified coach with the John Maxwell team. I found it incredibly practical and faith boosting.
Giving AND Growing in Finances
I’ve got these last two mindset shifts, tied together here, because often we can get stuck on one or the other, but really they go together.
All through the Bible is this theme of giving and generosity.
One way God has provided for us to do that is through tithing; giving a tenth of our income back to Him, and into the local church for growth. (Malachi 3:9-10)
Why did He set up tithing? Because He knew that we could otherwise forget. It’s the same reason He set up the Sabbath, because He knew we would forget to rest.
Yes, I realise that He set both these up in the Old Testament, but it’s a Biblical principle, a spiritual law of sowing and reaping and thus there is benefit in doing both.
I love the definition of generosity right from google: the quality of being kind and generous and the quality or fact of being plentiful or large.
It is possible to be wealthy and yet not generous.
A year ago our pastor’s wife was sharing this definition and another slightly different one she had found describing generosity as ‘freedom from small mindedness’. That has stuck with me.
I believe it’s a freedom from small mindedness in our giving BUT also our dreaming. Our dreaming of what God can do through us and the doors He can open when we partner our talents with Him. I want to be a good and faithful servant in the parable of the servants given talents, not the one who buried it in the ground.
I also believe God is raising up any army of believers and even women believers at that, who are wiling to be enlarged, both in mind and heart. Who are willing to work hard and see their dreams come to pass so that they can give back into God’s work, whatever it is that He’s specifically laid on our heart.
I see women doing this in the blogging sphere and reaching out and training others in how to do this.
Three women who’ve mentored me through their books and courses have been:
Beth Anne Schwamberger of Brilliant Business Moms, who helps moms work with the margins of time they have to create sustainable, growing businesses. She has resources on time management, scaling your business using facebook ads, and using Pinterest to grow revenue.
Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom, has practical tips on saving money, paying down debt, slashing your grocery bill, but also on blogging and making money online. She has been able to train money other women to care for their health, homes and family and pour back into the Kingdom of God both as a mentor and financially. She is so real and fun on Instagram, and such an encouragement to women.
Dani Johnson is such a real and gorgeous character, who went from dug addict to wealthy and losing it all until she rebuilt on a godly foundation. While she’s a millionaire, she has also trained her children to expect and ask for provision from God and how to be wise with their money. It seems to be a fact that many people who are millionaires, are so because they are so careful with their money.
Dani has a fantastic full length book, First Steps to Wealth, completely FREE for download on her website and it was instrumental in growing in me a mindset of abundance versus poverty. It is absolutely packed with ways to use your financial intelligence, and she deals with mindsets that hold you back in your business, marriage, parenting and money. I’ve since read a few of her other books and they are also powerful and brilliant.
Has there been a book or podcast that has positively impacted you in the area of financial intelligence and/or growing God’s Kingdom? I’d love to hear about it! If this has helped you, would you consider sharing it on facebook or pinterest to help others?