Tuesday Tea: A Little Chat about the Family Finances

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Tuesday Tea: A Little Chat about the Family Finances

Today is Tuesday Teatime at Rayanne's so I thought we could all have tea together. Won't you join me?  As I mentioned last week, I've decided that Tuesdays would be a good time for us to chat about the heart of homemaking...and being a wife and/or mother.  So break out your coffee mug, tea cup, or whatever is handy and let's chat about....money issues. I know..Gee-how fun!   My good friend, Trudy, left a comment recently, that brought to mind a discussion I had with a friend just two weeks ago.  It was all about finances to tell you the truth.  Trudy was asking about how to organize and manage the bills and finances. Normally, I'm very good at this and, in fact, plan to post on this topic at the end of the week. I have always been so consistent with keeping a good 'eye' on our budget, especially during our Financial Peace classes, that things seemed to be going pretty well. But honestly, they really weren't. Even though I'm the 'number cruncher' in the family or 'budget geek', that doesn't mean I was doing a good job necessarily. 

The reason I say that is simply that I need accountability--period. Dave Ramsey says that in every couple, one is the spender and the other is the numbers geek. Well, I'm both. Tim hates the numbers..his eyes sort of glaze over when I start rattling off the figures and what I budgeted and when and where I (we) spent the money. I was the accounting major and love tracking our finances, normally. But I also tend to get caught up in an idea or project..one that requires money and spend impulsively. Or I'm the one likely to tell the kids (or even Tim might I say?) yes, when they ask about money for something extra, rather than no, because I like for everyone to be happy. I have such a hard time being objective. And of course, I know I shouldn't be the one having to say "NO" to Tim. Nor should he have to come to me. I mean, my goodness, he is the one bringing in the paycheck.

Our plan, when we first got married, was that I would do the budget and pay the bills, because I 'had the time' but that Tim would look over the budget and decide how much should be paid here and there and whether or not to buy big things. In reality, this just didn't work. Because he wasn't 'responsible' for making sure the bills got paid, or that we had a budget to work from for the month, when it came time to make a big money decision, I was the only one familiar enough with our finances to make an informed decision. So Tim would ask if we had enough money for this or that. It put me in the driver's seat. And this put a lot of pressure on both of us. Without meaning to, I would say yes one time too many and then added to that were the nickle and dime expenses that left us short at the end of the month, over and over again. For years, we NEVER went into debt. But this last year or two, it's been creeping up on us. A lot of it is medical debt and some is car repair debt, and even partly paying for a new car (about 20% of the price). I'm thinking..this is not a good thing!

My friend, with whom I was discussing the issue of who should be 'in charge' of the bill paying, said that she and her husband had been challenged by a wise couple at church to consider letting hubby be responsible even if he WASN'T good at managing money or keeping track of the bills. If left with the ball in his court,  they assured her that he would eventually rise to the occasion. The important thing was that it really had to be 'his' baby. She said that he really did get 'good' at managing their finances over the years, because he had to. So a few mistakes got made, but still, it put the pressure for providing and for spending where it needed to be.  Besides...I've made plenty of mistakes too!

You know, this all had come to the forefront of my mind this month because I had begun to not only get tired of all the pressure of being the 'middle man' but also, I just had too much to manage. It was a very unhealthy balance that left me totally responsible for our financial situation. I talked to hubby to see--did he want the finances back? He had tried a few years ago to be responsible for the bills, when I was having trouble , but he kept forgetting to pay the bills. Nothing serious occurred but still. Now all of our bills are paid automatically, which is much more workable.  So I asked him if he would mind taking over.Tim said he was so happy I had asked! He knew I was having trouble and was tired. He wanted to take over the finances because he felt that he was not doing his job as head of the home by leaving it all up to me, but he didn't just want to 'take it' from me.  What a guy!

I'm so so glad! I have had so much to juggle with Dad's paperwork that it seems to be burying me. So much responsibility and decisions have been on my shoulders. I really need Tim to be the one to tell the teenagers NO and me too. (Even though that opens a whole other can of worms. Yipes! But I know the Lord will make me able to do this!) I desperately need that buffer and the accountability. As it is, I really want to give my whole attention to teaching school and grading Christian's papers. I want to get back to letter writing and not be always forgetting family birthdays. I want to feel like a homemaker again..instead of the 'head' of our home.

I think often of what Elisabeth Elliott said so many times, "Do what you know to be right...and leave the consequences to God." Ladies, even if hubby is a spendthrift or wastes it, if you don't let them do so and fail, they will never change. My husband doesn't have this problem, so I almost hate saying this. You are right--I've never experienced this situation. But I have a family member whose husband was like that. I know how miserable she was. I believe that he would have learned to take responsibility a lot sooner, if he had been allowed to 'blow it'. Instead, his parents bailed him out..often...even as an adult. To let someone fail especially when you and the children suffer requires a trust and faith in God that is really beyond describing. I haven't had to endure this trial and it would just about kill me I'm sure.

Yet, watching our teenagers (and some people's husbands fall into that category) trying to learn to handle responsibility and learning that we have to let them fail first, or they won't grow, makes me think that this is the only way. We all learn through our mistakes. And God won't abandon us. No, we won't be comfortable all the time, we may in fact end up miserable and humiliated..but God will be with us. It is through suffering and trials that our faith is tested, tried, and proven. My husband, wise man, let me handle things..and I've failed in spite of my best efforts. Since January, I just haven't managed things very well at all.Now I'm ready for him to take the reins back. I'm tired of driving!

I'm learning to prioritize now and make hubby, kids, and home 'my projects' instead of sewing or craft sales or fabric art. I've been at this all summer and I'm sure my blog reflects that. But in every area of life, I'm starting to be faithful again. So no doubt, I would do better than I have been. But  there is an inherent weakness in the dynamic we have going. It isn't just about paying the bills properly. It's about doing what I've been equipped to do as a woman rather than what I'm not equipped to do.  I've found new joy in doing what 'I ought'. 

This week, my goals were to clear out the closet so dear hubby wouldn't feel buried in my stuff and to get the finances and papers in enough order that Tim could easily take over.Our marriage is so much the better for my new focus and proper priorities. And you know what? One of these days, I'll be able to pick back up the projects again..but I'll be keeping them 'in balance'. It's been a learning process for me as it is for all of us I'm sure!
I hope to share more about how we 'handle' our finances and organize the bill paying, receipts etc., but today, I just wanted to talk about the 'heart' of the matter. I know, I'm old fashioned, but I find there is greater peace in my heart, when I leave the heavy responsibilities in Tim's hands. He may not be the best 'number cruncher', but he isn't a 'worry wart' either. He's strong and objective...and he's 'The Man'. God equipped men to carry emotional weight in a way that he didn't equip us. I know this post won't help everyone, but I do hope it will help someone in a similar quandry to mine.

Have you had difficulties with financial issues? Do you have a budget?  How does this affect your marriage?

Let's meditate on this scripture this week....

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5,6 NLT

Happy Homemaking!


Trudy said...

I've taken a break from my sewing blog just recently for a few weeks or so so that I can try and get things in order around here. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about getting my priorities in the proper order. I am wanting, and Marty is wanting, for me to hand the finances over to him, and just enjoy my position as wife and mother. It is much too stressful for me. But like you, I desire to get them in some sort of order. I have no system for how to file bills, receipts, etc. Marty doesn't know how to organize one either. So if I can set something up for him that he can follow and he has a place for everything and knows how to keep up with it and how to keep records and keep track of it all, for example, how do you keep track when both people are using a debit card or spending cash for miscellaneous items? So if you have any tips for keeping records, filing, paying the bills on time and so forth, I would very much appreciate it.

Neither one of us are really equipped to do this job -- We end up receipts and paycheck stubs laying all about. I'll find them on the counters, on the floor board of the car, stuffed in bags, under the bed -- But I have not done a very good job with the finances; so I don't think he could do much worse than I have already done. And I don't like telling him No. We don't have the money. I think he will be better with his spending if he is looking at it each day and knows exactly what's what. I could relate to the Yipes part. Because if I want something I just buy it. Now I'll have to ask. Let's see. What do I think I need to buy before this accountability system kicks in? Better go take a quick look at my Amazon wish list and hit the resale shops for a couple more pretty dresses. lol

Thank you, Donna, for doing your posts about this subject. I really appreciate it. I know you are an organized person and that you love to help people; that's why I asked for your advice. I am so relieved I have someone who can help us get our lives in better order.

Room for More said...

For us we have had to work out something that works for our marriage, but that had Rhea heading the finances. It has evolved over the years and we have tried different things. We FINALLY in the last 1-2 years got it where it works and works well for BOTH of us. WIth Rhea owning his own company, someone has to do the office bookkeeping. I do that. We tried hiring that out, but it cost quite a bit to pay someone to do that. I do not mind doing it, but I didn't want control of the budgets/spending for the company or our home. So, we had to work through that.

I run everything on the Mac with software/spreadsheets. I give him a 2x a month break down of what $ has come in and he fills in where it is to go, I do that, return in a couple of days and he sees the final #s with a category list of where the $$ went.
So, basically, the stress is gone for me. It is no different than him asking me to do his laundry and having it hung and ironed. It is something he has asked me to do. THere are no decisions for me to make (well see #7 below). I don't enjoy laundry and I don't enjoy bookkeeping, but it is work that God has called me to and He equips me.
1. Find software that works for YOU. What works well for you and "makes sense" to you(or me), will not work for a Mr. Visionary. THere are plenty of programs on the market that work well. We use QBPro for our business and Rhea understands that, and I run YNAB (after years of QB) for our home expenses budgeting.

2. Keep a basket (where you both know where it is--ours is next to the computer) where everyone can drop off their receipts, including the kiddos. Once a week (20 min tops) I enter everything in the software and move on. The business stuff requires a lot more time than that a week, but most people do not have that to deal with.

3. Like Donna/Trudy shared, make sure there is a lot of communication going on b/ween husband and wife. BOTH husband and wife need to be on the same page and content in their circumstances. The wife can "do" the books, but making the final call on financial decisions is where we cross the line biblically.

4. If you are a wife who does the household bookkeeping, we should only as wives, give the information, not make the decisions. Building on #3 above, organize the bills, give them a simple spreadsheet if they need it, enter the "facts" in the software, print out a budget category list showing where you are for the month/YTD. Whatever you need to do to GIVE the information so that they can make the financial decisions.

5. If you are asked your opinion, then share it, otherwise, just provide information--this requires no words ; ). Rhea takes the printouts, makes notes, writes in numbers, puts questions marks (and even smiley faces) and leaves it on my desk. We discuss "stuff" if needed.

6. We do hold one another accountable. He knows I see it and I print it out and I know he sees it. We have an agreement that any purchase over our set Misc. amount for the month equals a phone call to our spouse.

7. Stay consistent--do not get behind with the paperwork. It is just like letting a room go. It is easier to 20 minutes a week than spend hours at a atime pulling your hair out trying to remember where you went and spent $35 3 weeks ago. Do not fall in to bad spending habits. If you think your husband is falling into bad spending habits, do not be the Holy Spirit to him, just give him the info, he'll see it.

8. Hmmm....probably a lot more, but I need some more tea to keep typing away!

Great topic Donna and I am glad you and Tim found a way to make it work for you both!

Donna said...

Dear Trudy, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one struggling with this! The organizing part is the easy part. It's the dynamic between husband and wife that really has to be worked out first.

You are such a sweetie to be so brave. I have family in a similar state. My finances paperwork is pretty orderly normally, I just haven't filed my receipts for the last few months. But I got them sorted into envelopes last week. Really, there's not much left for me to do--I'm just a perfectionist about it I guess. We have a good 14 different people to pay and I wanted to transfer all the notification emails to Tim so he would get them in his email box rather than me.

I'll work on a post that should help you and try to get it up tomorrow since paperwork is what I'm doing today.

Don't worry, your heart is in the right place! And Marty can do this--I'm sure.


Millie Green said...

This is a beautiful post, Donna, Thank You.

You said, "This week, my goals were to clear out the closet [for] dear hubby..."
and I am going to do this too, by the weekend. My dear hubby is Virgo and loves and craves order, but I have a huge jumble of disorder in there messing up our bedroom (and peace and sleep, probably), and so thanks for making me want to take care of it pronto!
and yeah, also paying the bills and paperwork, which is now my responsibility and has never been my cup of tea. Your photos make paying bills beautiful, :) I never saw the beauty before, so thanks for the money inspiration! I will also clean off my desk and round up paperwork; that is another mess that has gotten out of hand for me and I appreciate your bringing it up and putting in the context of love. Have a great day; I am praying for all of you.

Caroline said...

eh Donna, this is certainly a topic of discussion in our house. Neither one of us is a spendthrift, though each of us has our temptations. I pay the bills and manage the $ so hubby doesn't really know ... and I also hate to say "no" ... but he truly does not have time to take it on, so I need to keep doing it but just find a way to keep him more informed. I feel like in our house it is part of managing the home for him so he is free to do what God has called him to - but the balance of both of us knowing is still eluding me.

Donna said...

Shannon, Great ideas!--I was going to write all of that--tomorrow. Ha! :o) But I like your perspective. For the mechanically and paperwork inclined, those things will work and very well. Isn't it fun?! You are such a geek by the way. Ha!Ha!

But for Trudy, and other ladies for whom paperwork and number crunching doesn't come naturally, I'm hoping to keep it a little more simple and basic.

At the same time, I'm very glad you shared your list of steps because that is really pretty much what I do, except that when life hands you too much disruption, like a Dad dying,and me living away from home for a month then a good system can go awry pretty quickly. That's what happened to me.

Non-stop travel, doing the finances over the computer from hotel rooms..hubby buys a truck while I'm in Dallas because it just wasn't working any more to hold off, but we couldn't do it together.

There were too many fast balls being thrown at me. But I do know who was throwing them. Our dear Lord knew that a type A like me doesn't give in easily. Those situations are what it took to cause me to take a second look at why Hubby needed to be the one..at least at our house.

Thanks so much for the fabulous feedback! You're a sweet friend.


Donna said...

Aunt Millie, Thanks for 'seeing' the beauty in what I was trying to portray. That is why I take the photos I do..to help inspire us to slow down and enjoy doing the daily duties the Lord has given us. You should read The Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaffer. She's the one who gave me a new perspective on even the bill paying. I'm glad this post blessed you. I wanted it to. :o)

Dear Caroline, You are always so straightforward..and real. LOVE your comment! You're doing just great. :o)

Love you all,


Donna said...

Too too funny Shannon. You geeky-ness is just killing me! I love the four envelope idea if you are helping hubby with business.

But you are on the right track..paper, pencil, envelopes, and an old fashioned check register will get someone headed in the right direction..and my sister uses a gallon jar to store her business receipts for the year. Oh my..that is just killer. It works for her-Ha!

GlorV1 said...

Great post Donna. I'm sure it will help those who need the help. I can honestly say and this is the truth, we don't have bills other than groceries, utilities, gas for cars and the usual stuff. I am the "bookkeeper." My husband would spend every day if he could. I learned my lesson decades ago, he was a spender and he showed that by maxing his credit cards. I followed suit. One day I sat down and said, no this is not going to get it, if we are ever going to be debt free, the cards are going and if we don't have the cash money to buy something, then we don't buy. I took over the budget, put the San Jose house on the market. When it sold, we paid this home off, all our bills, shreaded the credit cards and we have been debt free for about 5/6 years now. It feels good to not owe anything and have a home that is paid for. We have one credit card and that is for emergency purposes only and right now there is only a $15 balance. Donna, it's a great feeling knowing you are free and clear. My husband doesn't and never did want to be the bill payer so to speak. He left that up to me. Thanks for the post, excellent! Oh and the tea too.:)

Donna said...

Wow- Gloria...that is just phenomenal! I'm glad everything worked out so well for you. You're a sweet friend and an inspiration!

I'm glad you dropped by for tea.


Kim said...

I can say this happened to me about 5 years ago.
As the woman, I was not created to "handle" the finances. I could do them very well and I did for many years but I also had the stress of grouching at my family about leaving lights on, turn the heat down and so on. I was taking the job of "providing" for my family from my husband. He was the one that should have been paying the bills and calling out to God for the things we needed, but it was me because I "didn't trust" my husbands' ability.
I finally surrendered and now he's the one praying to God for things we need and turning off the lights and the one giving me grocery money and filling my van with gas and giving me money for clothes...... I love the husband God created him to be. I also love that he's taking the responsibility in so many other areas too. I feel taken care of and really cherished. God's word is true if we just step aside and give up the control. Debbie Pearl says that even if your husband does a poor job we shouldn't take over the role that God has given him to do.
Trust in Him and in your hubby!

Room for More said...

Donna-there are free printable checkbook registers on the web too. I use these with the kids to help them begin to take charge of their finances and track spending. (consumer math!) Also, an old fashioned brown accordion thingy with the different pockets inside with the rubber band thingy that goes around it (now that's technical, ha), it works well to keep everything in one place. THis one is fancier than what I have: http://www.amazon.com/Oxford-01156-Portafile-Expanding-Organizer/dp/B000DN85LA
I had this one: http://www.amazon.com/Smead-Kraft-Expanding-Elastic-70121/dp/B000GR5T8A/ref=pd_sbs_op_7

Before the business, I used one and kept receipts, bills, envelopes, stamps, checks, deposit slips, a calculator and pens all inside. There were plenty of dividers.

Okay, enough of the geek-y-ness! I will sit tight and wait for your next post. See, you talk sewing and I am intrigued, but clueless, you get into organizing and paperwork and here I am! ha-ha-ha!

Donna said...

Kim, You took the words right out of my mouth! I really want us to first understand how we relate to our husbands and money...before we decide how to organize it all.
Because we all love getting things in order. This is usually easy for any of us women to do.

The hard part is to sit back, bite our lip, and wait...while hubby starts to use all the stuff we've organized. I've been taking photos for tomorrows post but I'm also very carefully planning out just what to show you so that it's simple and clear and really pretty hands on. Something you can pick up and hand to hubby.

Once everyone gets the hang of it, they can find software or whatever to make the job easier or computerized, but it helps to 'see' what you are doing financially first. And we need to let our hubbies get in there and work with us. We don't want to overwhelm them. Ha!

Donna said...

Wow...this really did turn into a tea time chat didn't it? I'm so blessed!!! and pleased. :o)

Thanks friends,


Jill said...

Great post! Love the pictures of the cat! :-) I'm the bill payer too. I have a very type a personbality so I like getting things done, but I must admit keeping up with it all is very exhausting.
Have a great night!

“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster

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