Last week I gave our personal financial testimony, full of struggles and triumphs! As promised, I want to spend January focusing on some key financial disciplines. My prayer and hope is that these inspire you to seek financial freedom for your family, as well as remind myself to not forget the goal and stay focused!
You have heard the old saying, “the first step is to always admit you have a problem”. Friends… you have to admit you have a financial problem. (if you don’t have a financial problem… then skip admitting). As I mentioned last week, you must be real with yourself. If you are married, then you must be real with each other. The top three marital discourse conversations are centered around finances, lack of communication, and sex. Lack of communication finds itself frequently in the financial area. There is much drama around a stack of bills and a shared checking account.
Imagine the freedom that would exist with your partner when finances are not the center of constant battles. Imagine the battles that wouldn’t exist when there is financial freedom. Galatians 5:1 reads, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” That yoke of slavery can be anything. Anything that keeps you in bondage. Folks, I don’t want to be a slave to ANYTHING, much less debt. God does not desire for us to be enslaved to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).
So, talk. If you are single, talk to yourself, talk to your mentor, talk to your best friend, talk to your parents, talk to someone that can be trusted in the area of finances. If you are married, talk to your spouse. Of all the terrible, awkward, pain induced conversations Gray and I have had in marriage, the reality of our financial situation was by far the most difficult. It was ugly. It was embarrassing. It was “are we going to fail in marriage” moment. Now that I am on the other side, I can say as terrible as it was, we lived, we conquered, we are triumphing! The conversation HAD TO BE HAD. There was no way around it.
The key to any great conversation is to never point fingers. Remember, you are in this together. I would strongly encourage your conversation to start out something like this, “hey (babe, sweetie, sugar, my love, precious, sexy, or whatever loving description you have) can we sit down and talk money? I really desire to have freedom in our finances. It will be difficult to admit some things, but I want to work through some really hard conversations so that we can grow closer together and be on the same page”. I am almost certain no one ever died budgeting their money, so remember no matter how difficult or bloody it gets, you got this! YOU CAN DO THIS!
Once this conversation happens, you must be real. You can’t hide anything. It must all come out. I was a hider. It bit me in the rear end. The truth of the matter is, once that was brought to light, I felt like the weight of 30 elephants was lifted off of me. Let’s be real and call it what it is, sin. Hiding that from my husband was sin. Uncovering the truth allowed me that opportunity for repentance and Christ to mold and change my heart. How beautiful that Refiners fire truly is!
Being real requires every bill, every loan, every credit card, every bank account, savings account, retirement, EVERYTHING to be brought to the table. Hiding anything will only hinder freedom. It will be like taking two steps forward and five steps back. DON’T HIDE ANYTHING! Be real. Be open. Be honest.
Make a list of all of your income and expenses. We are not budgeting just yet, but we need to document money in and money out. As I mentioned earlier, we used Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University for our financial mentoring. There are so many other great financial gurus as well. You can pick one that you prefer. Dave offers several forms free on his website (click here). Use them!
So here we go friends… time to be real. Time to do some work! Step 1 to financial freedom is admitting where you are!