If marriage will not be a short-distance race but a marathon of sorts, we can’t afford to spend all our time, energy and resources planning for only the first few hours and days. Sadly, many couples expend so much effort that will not last the long haul. After a lavish wedding ceremony and romantic honeymoon, they are broke and knee-deep in debt as outstanding balances are owed to various vendors and all those who have lent them some money.

Some other couples had a great start but a recession or a recent medical diagnosis was a big hit on their finances. A bad investment has left couples distressed and unable to recover and their bills skyrocketing. You don’t have to join the staggering statistics of couples who live from hand to mouth, you can plan better.

“Never wait for the right time to save or invest.”

I’m sure you’ve heard that faith without works is dead. Please don’t get married by faith and begin to live on handouts and loans when you could have been comfortable on your own in your quiet corner. Many of us are great at quoting Bible verses to support our mediocrity and laziness.

Jesus said that if any of us wants to build a house or begin a journey, we should first count the cost. He didn’t say we should pray first. Did you notice that planning comes before prayer. Many times, we claim to be praying but what are we praying about? In all your ways, acknowledge me and I will direct your plans. Don’t be fooled by anyone who believes that prayer should replace the investment of hard work and the strive for excellence.

Jesus had no house and no car but when he was asked to pay his tax, he did. If you won’t work hard at what you do and earn enough money to be responsible for your spouse and kids, be prepared to get a ‘coin from a fish’. There was once a prophet who died and left his family in so much debt that the creditors threatened to take his wife and sons as slaves.  The details of that story can be found in 2 Kings 5.

It’s not enough to trust God to provide but whatever our hands find to do, let’s do with all our might and earn a decent pay and take care of our bills after we sign on the dotted lines. God hasn’t made it mandatory for any of us to get married and bring disgrace to His name because everyone knows our plight and we are owing more people than we can practically pay back.

“Please don’t get married by faith and begin to live on handouts and loans when you could have been comfortable on your own in your quiet corner.”

Assumption is the beginning of many conflicts. Don’t begin your marriage with any assumptions. Everything must be on the table and up for discussion. You shouldn’t be in doubt about how much your spouse earns, what assets they have and debts, if any. Anyone who refuses to respond to these questions or disclose these vital information is going to take your marriage down quicker than you know it.

It must be agreed before you sign on the dotted lines if you will have joint accounts or separate accounts. Couples must discuss about who is responsible for what. If any loans will be taken, both spouses must be aware.  Couples are encouraged to share access to any online accounts with their spouses. You don’t want to be stuck in a marriage with a spouse who is financially irresponsible.

When you get married, your spouse becomes your next-of-kin and all your details must be updated to reflect that. If you can’t share and disclose everything about your finances with your spouse, why did you get married to them? Why would you subject yourself to so much torture to live with someone you really don’t trust?

Many of these recommendations are easy to incorporate by couples who are best friends but when you get married to someone who isn’t your friend or are stuck with a controlling and domineering spouse, it will be tough to agree on these simple things as your voice will not be heard and your opinions will not be considered.

What is financial planning? Planning for the future is tricky but it can be done. The first step is to have a budget. Take time together to write down all your probable monthly expenses. Keeping a budget is a discipline that will enable you avoid the trap of going bankrupt. Many of us are impulse shoppers and even live above our means trying to fill a void only God can fill.

Finances for the long haul would include planning for the short-term (rent, transport, phone, school fees, vacation), mid-term (buying a house, a car, paying off a mortgage) and long-term (estate planning, retirement, giving back). It should not be done in a hurry and don’t hesitate to speak to the financial experts if you need any tools or resources to plan ahead.

“Don’t spend your pay check before it is here, you are stealing from your future and saving nothing aside.”

If you get married to someone who has never learnt the discipline of keeping a budget, who can’t live within their means or is a spendthrift, your relationship will be strained. Many people who grew up deprived of many things now feel a lot of pressure to show off and impress others as they fight off the trauma of hardship, they dealt with growing up.

You also don’t want to be stuck with someone who is a miser or very stingy. They are so scared of the future that every coin is left in the bank’s vault while their family struggle in penury because they are afraid of being stranded. We don’t make our plans in fear, instead, we commit our plans to God as we step out in faith.

Don’t spend your pay check before it is here, you are stealing from your future and saving nothing aside. Many of us are quick to pray against lack and austerity but as long we live on this side of eternity, we are not in control and anything can happen. We don’t pray for the rainy day but when it comes, we must always have some emergency fund we can use.

Many people say live within your means, but instead lets live below your means. You can live on a lot more less. Don’t believe the lie of the enemy that one more shoe, one more gadget or one more car will make you happy. Our joy and our worth don’t come from the things we own but from God.

Don’t join the miserable folks who are busy buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like. Don’t take a loan for a liability, try not to owe anyone so you can have a good night rest and a normal blood pressure.

You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent house-guest. Proverbs 6:6-11.

Don’t spend your hard earned cash feeding people Chinese and continental dishes at your lavish wedding ceremony when you have no money for your monthly upkeep. Many couples are mentally stressed on their wedding days as they force a smile through their pursed lips because they know how much debt they are in and have no clue how they will sort this.

Nobody will remember the details of your wedding celebration a few months after and if they do, what value will that add to the quality of your life? Many of those in debt after the wedding are those who have done all they could to have a fairy-tale wedding and no plans for after all that is over.

Many couples didn’t think they might have a Cesarean section, they assumed that they would have a vaginal birth but complications in the last week of pregnancy called for this recommendation. Then they start crowdfunding. The baby is here and has a defect or needs an urgent surgery and on and on, we begin to run from pillar to post looking for funds.

For many of us, our monthly pay check has never been adequate to take care of our personal or family’s needs let alone to birth all the dreams God has placed inside us. We can’t continue to work for money and keep up with the cycles of debt and windfalls all of our lives, at some point, we need the money we’ve earned to work for us.

It’s time to consider and explore multiple streams of income. You don’t have to do the same business your friend is doing; you don’t have to gamble in the stock market or invest in the lottery. Let’s begin to think about what problems we can solve as a couple that will bring in the funds to add to what we already have.

Neither the steady income from a regular job nor a business venture is a guarantee for a stable marriage. Don’t leave your job in a hurry to start a business, build it up and watch it grow before your gradually detach. Some spouses have left their family struggling because they wanted to ‘follow their passion’ or begin an adventure.

Don’t plan your future with get-rich schemes or business ventures that sound too good to be true. Many couples have not recovered from the depression when all their savings and investments vanished overnight. It’s usually the first few who have great testimonies about the bonuses they have enjoyed and the rest of those who jumped aboard late never get the opportunity to tell their stories.

Many couples wish they could turn back the hands of time and retrieve all the cash they splashed at their wedding celebration, had they known, they would have scaled back their excesses and planned for the life after the wedding.

The fabulous and elegant pictures posted on social media will not put dinner on your table. Some couples in dire need have sold their wedding gowns, diamond rings and wedding presents to feed their starving families.

Why do we need to plan for the long haul? There will be different stages and phases in a marriage. we have to plan for the mountain and valley experiences. We have to plan for when one or both spouses are out of work. We have to plan for medical bills and celebrations.

Some couples have not had a holiday together since their honeymoon, they have not renewed their vows to each other, they have not celebrated their anniversaries, they don’t buy each other birthday presents, it’s always and almost barely enough. If we don’t plan for the future, we will continue to remain in a state of anxiety about what next will happen.

If you are able to buy your house, not matter how small, it’s yours. You would have taken the pressure off you from any landlord. It’s better to live in your hut than rent anyone’s mansion. If you have multiple streams of income, you will have the options to do a lot more than if all you depended on was only your monthly pay check.

Some couples were shocked when they lost their job and their partner had to bear the financial burden of the home. Most men have an overwhelming burden to provide for their families and when they are out of work or lose a large part of their investment, it feels awkward to depend on their spouse and their bruised ego can begin to affect their marriage, they get angry and shutdown emotionally.

But failure is a part of life, if the road is always easy, you are surely going downhill. If you are struggling financially, ask God for unusual strength and uncommon wisdom to manage this phase. It’s not a time to medicate our pain with all sorts but a time to draw strength for the days ahead. God may be teaching you to depend on Him or to be humble or He may be reminding you about planning better.

And it’s not time for the wife to feel she is now more important or begin her pity parties by telling her family and friends about how useless her husband has become. Your spouse’s problem is now your problem. Ask God for unusual grace to be humble and patient while you serve your family through this crisis. There are many families that are struggling but no one gets to hear about it because the couple is working as a team and supporting each other.

A financial plan, which could be part of your year plan or a standalone plan is just a plan and should be reviewed and updated as life happens. In five or ten years, you will notice that your plans may be outdated or no longer practical. Don’t stay at a job that’s no longer paying your bills when you can go back to school or upgrade your skills and get a better job.

Getting married to someone who isn’t flexible and unable to think outside of the box and adapt to change will be a nightmare. The companies, churches and communities that excel at what they do and are making a huge impact are those who are constantly reviewing their modus operandi and implementing and incorporating the change that’s required to stay ahead.

You don’t just want to stay afloat financially but stay ahead. You must be thinking ahead to five or ten years from now: What do I need to do to stay ahead? What financial decision am I making now that will get me sinking in a few years? What do I need to do differently to avoid a bankruptcy.

If we don’t put some money aside in savings each month, we will wake up one day and there will be no money to spend. Don’t leave your money in the bank as it’s depreciating in value each day. Explore financial instruments depending on your risk threshold and diversify your investments. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Never wait for the right time to save or invest. Everyday is a new opportunity to begin to plan. Don’t just plan for your wedding and your honeymoon but begin to think about giving your kids the best education you can afford, the medical care you want access to, all the lives you want to impact not forgetting your dreams and vision. It doesn’t have to be extravagant and ostentatious but sustainable and in moderation.

Don’t just plan for your rent, school fees and monthly upkeep besides the day-to-day running of a home, think long-term about retirement and when you will no longer have a regular income, or the physical strength required for a full-time job. Don’t be a burden to your children who will have their own lives to live, make plans for the evening of your life.

Many marriages are sandwiched between two demanding generations as they care for their elderly parents and relatives who don’t own the house they live in, who have frequent hospital visits and need carers to support them. And their young children who need their time and attention with no limit to their growing physical and emotional needs.

At some point, couples need to begin to think about estate planning. Should I draft a will or leave my assets in a trust? A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children. Proverbs 13:22. Does God expect us to work so hard and our grandchildren become lazy expecting so much inheritance from us? Or is God unhappy with those who leave no inheritance but are a burden to their children in their old age?

When we are young, we learn to read but as we grow older, we read to learn. Don’t get or stay married and remain a financial illiterate. Read books about how to make money, how to invest or even to manage what you have. Pay to attend conferences where your financial knowledge can be stretched. Never stop asking questions about doing something different.

Money doesn’t bring happiness but a lack of it will certainly make any couple unhappy. Many marriages are struggling because of the status of their finances. The Bible doesn’t instruct men to bring the bacon home nor does it say that women should earn no money. Financial planning should be an intentional and committed decision by both spouses, everyone bringing their bit to the family’s purse. Let’s break through the stereotypes and add value to our families.

Many times, couples spend all their cash on their personal and family needs which isn’t bad but God’s calling us to open our hearts and extend our hands to others in need. All across the Bible, God refers to remembering the widows, the orphans, the fatherless, the strangers who have nothing provided for.

“You don’t just want to stay afloat financially but stay ahead.”

If you don’t have a financial plan or rather if you are not in a good place financially, you will be unable to stretch and help others. You don’t have to be a philanthropist who does all their giving in the public eye for the praise and reward of others but secretly, sacrificially and selflessly, you can begin to give back to a cause, a group of vulnerable people or for the work of the kingdom.

A financial plan without godliness and contentment is only a disaster waiting to happen. When we stop being grateful for what we have or think we have to show off our wealth to others, we will begin to consider unquestionable practices to keep up with our desire for more.

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Matthew 6:19-21.

We don’t own any of the money we have earned, we are only stewards and one day we will give an account to the One who gave it to us. There is a purpose that God has entrusted you with so much wealth. It’s not for you or to splash all that cash on social media, God’s counting on you and I to make a difference to leave an imprint on our generation.

Financial planning is great but the more important question to consider is: Where will you spend eternity? We brought nothing into this world and certainly we will take nothing out of it. Don’t chase after money without God. When we finally step out of time into eternity, our trophies and triumphs will crumble into dust. We all have one life to live, it’s only what is done for Christ that will last.

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