Monday, February 1, 2010

What Are You Going To Do About It?

Recently, I had lunch with a colleague, and we discussed many things. At one point, we were discussing the Connect Group which Mindy (my wife) and I lead through our church. It’s a book study group based on Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover (TMMO). We’ve led the group through two semesters, and are just about to start our third. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a passion for personal finance. I’ve read all kinds of books on it, and tried all sorts of systems. But it wasn’t until TMMO that I found something that really works.

My friend told me what we are doing is important, and he put it this way: “The three big rocks in a marriage are Intimacy, Communication, and Finances.” I’d never really thought about marriage with such uncomplicated clarity before. Both he and I are Christians, so involving God in your marriage was a given. The more I think about what he told me, the more it makes sense. If a man and a wife get those three things synchronized, then any other issues should tend to fall in place.

Now, I’m not about to give anyone advice on Intimacy, but I do know it’s important. Anyone who watches the news reported on society today would know it was important as well. And, I’m the last person you should talk to about better communications with your spouse – I’m too task-oriented. But, you start talking about Personal Finance and you’ve got my attention.

It’s no secret that our economy has struggled for the last two years. In turn, this has caused many families to struggle as well. But, my question would be this:

“What are You going to do about it? Are You taking a good, hard look in the mirror?”

See each of those big three rocks mentioned above are very personal things. No one is asking the government to assist their marriage with bailouts of Intimacy or Communication. Why then would we ask the government to assist with our Personal Finances? Maybe as a Nation, we just don’t know where to start. Here is a starting point, two items: Contentment & A Developed Plan.

Contentment: We are a living in a Society of Debtors, because we are not content. The wealthiest nation on the planet, and yet we are servants to lenders! Being a debt society is one of the culprits of our current economic crisis. We have replaced our needs with our desires. We place our desires before our needs. We need healthcare, but how many are willing to place that expense as a priority above entertainment? It is great to have desires, but we must live within our means and not “reward” ourselves until we can afford it. Contentment requires discipline. Discipline requires Focus.

A Developed Plan: A well-written plan requires focus to develop. It must be laid out in an achievable manner and help you reach your goals. A plan isn’t just something you write and throw on the shelf though either. A plan is a course of action, which means that it must cause you to do something. In this case, we want it to be positive action. A study of Harvard graduates found that after two years, the 3 percent who had written goals achieved more financially than the other 97 percent combined! That is an incredible stat which should motivate you to write down anything you hope to achieve.

This may not directly help with Intimacy or Communication in marriage, perhaps only in an indirect manner. Start working on the betterment of your Personal Finances, and partner with your spouse in this area. Doing this will open up lines of communication, and get you agreeing on the money allocation plan (budget) together. When you start communicating on one thing, other topics are sure to follow. The more you are communicating with one another, the more intimacy you will start to enjoy. I’ve heard it said that money fights are the number one cause of divorce in America. So, stop fighting about money, and start focusing on being content and building a plan. It may just transform your marriage!


KabulArchitect said...

Thanks for a great essay. Placing need above entertainment reminds me of many observations, both in town and along the interstate. For example, the dilapidated structures people live in, accompanied by nice cars, boats, satellite dishes and basketball shoes. I-70 crossing MO used to have a handpainted billboard that read, "We'll build stadiums when baseball players build highways!" Americans suffer from a plight of under-employment because the cost of want exceeds the cost of need... The Lord will provide what we need. It was Emerson or Thoreau who said, "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone."

R.P. Edwards said...

Well said. Advice I could have used many credit cards ago (but would I have listened?)

Michelle said...

Well said Wes! I believe that true peace comes from contentment. When Scott and I are content, we are more aware of God's plan for our lives. You are such a blessing to all of the participants in your small group!