Joint Responsibility: For effective family financing
couples must first accept that all house expenses are the full
responsibility of both partners in the relationship. The couple must agree
on what these expenses are. Generally household expenses include food, all
utilities, rent/mortgages, car gas, cooking gas, cable and internet
services, medical/dental/optical expenses, insurance, school fees, car
repairs, home repairs, daycare, etc. When a man and woman agree to live
together in holy matrimony, they are in reality stating that they will take
care of each other and be equally responsible for each other. This is
whether or not both partners are working.
Plan Together: After agreeing that they are both
responsible, the couple must now plan together. With paper and pen in hand,
they will sit down and make up a budget that will include both incomes and
all household expenses. The concept of a family budget is that household
expenses will now be funded by the budget and not by a specific partner.
Select a Bookkeeper: What is the bookkeeper? It is
the one who will keep the record of spending, making sure the family keeps
within the budget, and reconciles bank statements, etc. One spouse is not
the bookkeeper by default. The mistake is commonly made that the man is the
familyís bookkeeper simply because of his perception of his role in the
marriage. The bookkeeper should be the one who is better qualified for the
task. Although both partners will work together in building the budget, yet
it is important to select one person to keep the books for the family.
Openness & Honesty: There are too many married
partners who do not know how much their spouse is making. This is not
partnership in marriage. Budgeting brings all the cards to the table.
Couples must be honest and agree to share fully all assets and liabilities
because they are really total equal partners. Too many wives are not aware
of what their husbands are actually making. Since a husband is paying all of
the bills, the wife seems to feel she is taken care of and she is safe. But
it is a false sense of security that can vanish during difficult times. Many
wives are taught not to let their husbands know what their incomes are. Some
feel threatened if they "expose" their financial assets to their
spouses. The truth is that this practice of secrecy and of individual
financial independence in marriage is not healthy, and certainly does not
represent partnership in marriage.
Set Limits for Personal Spending: Although there is a
family budget where both partners place their income to facilitate the
payment of household and personal expenses, yet it is also beneficial for
each partner to have a monthly "allowance" for personal spending
of minor incidentals. For example the purchasing of newspapers, light
lunches, etc. This amount should be decided upon jointly and can be placed
in the budget or deducted from the income before the budget is constructed.
However, there should be an understanding on how much money can be spent
without the otherís consent or knowledge. For instance, couples can agree
that there will be no purchasing of items above $150 without consulting the
other. Or no major items such as cars, washing machine, computers, etc, will
be purchased without the consent of the other partner.
Open Joint Account: It is healthy financial practice
for couples to have at least one joint account. This account can be a
checking account to facilitate the payment of the household bills weekly or
monthly. Each spouse can still maintain a personal account to save his/her
"allowance" or any amount agreed upon jointly. However, there
should be no secret account.
Put God First: Perhaps the most important principle
for family financing is putting God first. The very first item on a budget
should be tithes and offerings. Each spouse should decide how much tithes
and offerings he or she will systematically return to God each pay check. It
is imperative to remember that the source of all life and the owner of all
of our assets is God. It is a blessing to return to God a faithful tithe and