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How To Kill Your Debt Without Killing Your Spouse

Debt will take a toll on your marriage long before it ever affects your credit. Finance is a numbers game, but we tend to forget there are lives and emotions attached to those numbers.

When your blood pressure starts to rise over issues of money, you should stop and ask yourself, “what’s more important, my budget or my bride? My security or my spouse?”

Money can be an incredibly deep issue, because it is married to your emotions, often showing up in issues of control, security, identity, and desire. So when life is difficult financially, it can really start to weigh on your relationship.

We wrongly place our hope in money, trusting that it will bring us security, and provide for our needs. I personally believe that your level of financial freedom is proportionate to the level of disconnect between your emotions and your money (that’s a powerful thought…don’t miss it!). True financial freedom comes when you can separate your finances from your feelings.

Imagine how free your life would be if the lack of money did not produce fear, and wealth was not connected with feelings of peace and security. What if your level of joy did not rise and fall with your income? What if we could simply trust him to be who he said he is, our Provider? Paul said “My God shall supply all your needs…” Do we believe that?

If you argue about money with your spouse, then it’s time for a divorce. But not with your spouse…rather, with your trust in money instead of in God.

James (don’t forget…this was Jesus’ brother) said “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

It’s time for some soul-searching. Do your arguments with your spouse stem from your own desires, whether that be for control, security, or simply more stuff (because your identity is tied to your possessions)? If so, you need to confess this to your spouse and ask your spouse for forgiveness.

To achieve financial wholeness in a marriage requires teamwork. But sometimes you need a reminder that you and your spouse are on the same team, fighting for each other instead of against each other. Finances are never “his” problem or “her” issue….it’s OUR problem and regardless of who caused it we’re going to work together to overcome it.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley & Beth

P.S. It’s Friday, which means we’re sending out our newsletter today. We always include a short “Date Night” section in the newsletter including tips and questions for you and your spouse to help keep the passion alive in your marriage. Not a member of the DTL community? Sign-up now!

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Four Qualities of a Bulletproof Budget (Part Two)

Welcome back to our “Bulletproof Budget” series! We truly hope you are having an excellent week so far!

As promised, today’s post is about the final two qualities of a bulletproof budget. In Part One, we mentioned the first two qualities, which are 1) Keeping your budget simple and, 2) Making sure you and your spouse agree on the budget.

Without further delay, here are the final two qualities of a bulletproof budget.

A Bulletproof Budget Is…

3. Comprehensive

There is no such thing as “unexpected” when it comes to a truly comprehensive budget. Notice…I didn’t say “complex.” It is possible to have a budget that is thorough and accounts for everything yet is still simple and easy to understand. If you create a budget, yet still find “unexpected” expenses popping up throughout the month, then your budget is not comprehensive.

I’m writing this about two weeks after a team of Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden. Speaking about the planning for the raid, one commentator stated that they had contingency plans for every possible scenario, and then they had contingency plans for their contingency plans. Likewise, your budget is literally your spending plan. No budget = no plan. Inadequate budget = inadequate plan.

Studies show that the most common cause of major debt is unexpected emergencies. Obviously, you can never fully expect a car accident, or a sudden job loss. But you can prepare financially for the unexpected by allocating funds in your budget for these items.

Most “emergencies” are really smaller issues which should already be included in the budget as a line item, such as vehicle maintenance. The real emergencies are typically weathered by having an emergency fund, which starts around $1,000 and should eventually be built up enough to cover 3-6 months of living expenses.

4. Personal

Your budget is your budget. We highly suggest customizing any online template or form you may find so that it fits your needs and even your style.

Even though I’ve looked through dozens of different forms and templates, the budget Beth & I use was created by us from a blank Excel document. Why? Because it gives us the flexibility to make changes. I even change the colors and layout every so often just to give it a sense of newness. Sometimes I’ll add a scripture or quote to the budget. The point is, your budget needs to fit YOU. The more “U” that’s in your budget, the more you will enjoy it and take ownership of it.

That’s it. Simple, Agreed-upon, Comprehensive, and Personal. If these four qualities exemplify your budget, then you have something solid, err…bulletproof, that you can work with.

Comments

Please post a comment or question! Which of these four qualities does your budget need the most? We respond to 100% of our comments.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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Four Qualities of a Bulletproof Budget (Part One)

Hello & welcome back to Debt To Life! This week we’re excited to jump into the process of creating a bulletproof budget.

Today and Wednesday is all big-picture stuff (defining a bulletproof budget, parts one & two). On Friday, we’re going to help you create a bulletproof budget, step by step. Let’s jump right in by defining exactly what we mean by bulletproof!

A Bulletproof Budget is…

1. Simple

If you’ve never created a budget before, simplicity is the name of the game. Less is more. You can find hundreds of downloadable budget forms and spreadsheets online, however, most offer way too many features which often serve to overwhelm more than they help.

If you’re just starting out, you don’t need line items in your budget for retirement, investments, children’s college fund, etc. What you need is a simple budget that tracks your monthly income & expenses.

You can always add these items into your budget down the road, after you have established a track record of following your budget for a few months. What is important now is to create a habit of following your budget, and this will be difficult if your budget is complex and hard to understand.

Here are some tips to keep it simple:

  • Limit it to one page. If you’re using Excel, try to keep it where you can see 100% of your budget on one screen without having to scroll.
  • Omit items that don’t immediately apply. This is especially true if you’re trying to pay off debt. It’s pointless to save for your toddler’s college fund while carrying credit card debt. Pay off the high interest debt, then start saving for the college fund.

2. Agreed Upon

This is commonsense, so I won’t belabor this point. If your spouse doesn’t agree to the budget, it is far from bulletproof.

This also should go without saying, but a budget can’t be agreed upon when there are hidden expenses. You should never have income or expenses which are hidden from your spouse. No hidden credit cards, tax bills, subscriptions, expenses, etc. You get the picture. The only exception would be a surprise, such as saving for a surprise gift or trip. But even then I would err on the side of transparency.

What’s the easiest way to agree upon the budget? Simple. Create it together. We’re going to start talking about the process of creating a budget step by step in Friday’s post. But since we’re in the middle of the month, now is the perfect time to start planning and budgeting for next month.

If this is your first time to create a budget with your spouse, I would suggest that you schedule a couple of kid-free hours together in the next week or so (before the beginning of next month) where you have access to all of your financial information and a computer and can hash out a budget together.

More to come!

Stay tuned for the final two qualities of a bulletproof budget on Wednesday! As always, please post a comment or question below; we’d love to know if there’s any way we can better serve your specific needs! We respond to 100% of our comments.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

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