/ 19.10.10 / 15 Comments / family , Finances
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