Any counselor will tell you that money is one of the top issues that tends to cause strife in a marriage and lead to divorce.
It’s concerning, then, that it’s something not often talked about during singleness.
This topic has especially come to my attention recently, as I’ve had conversations with Millennials about the state of their financial world. Many of them feel like they are in over their head, that they will never catch up, and that they don’t know where their money is going.
No matter how much you are currently earning (or NOT earning), when it comes to dealing with your financial world, here are four things you need to get in the habit of doing regularly – that if learned now, will have GREAT impact on your future life and relationships:
I think the biggest problem for many singles is that they don’t actually know where their money is going. And let’s be honest, it’s easier to spend without taking inventory when you are single because there is typically no one else that you’re responsible for.
It’s important to take a step back and get a good grasp of exactly how much you are bringing in, and exactly where that money is going. Create a spreadsheet, and make yourself a budget planning out how much you need and what you can spend in each specific aspect of your life.
It’s tempting to overlook the importance of giving when you’re not making that much money to begin with. Tithing, and then giving to those in desperate need in different parts of the world can feel really hard to do. I remember feeling that struggle when I was single, and then into the first 5 or so years of our marriage. John and I were both grad students, and then soon after, trying to raise two children on a VERY tight budget.
But looking back, that is the time in our life where God really challenged us to give out of the little we had. In fact, the bible reminds us that this kind of giving is actually more meaningful to God than giving when it’s easy. Giving out of our “poverty” is an act of worship, because it’s this obedience that we proclaim we are truly trusting God to provide and take care of us.
Looking back at that time in our lives, God came through every….single…time. The more we obeyed, the more God reminded us in so many different ways that He could be trusted. With our money, with our marriage, with our family – and with every single aspect of our lives.
GET OUT OF DEBT
My personal opinion is that we give GOD first with the money we get – and then focus on paying off our debt. Debt is one of those things that can really impact our lives in a negative way because the longer we carry it, the heavier it gets. I don’t believe you have to be “debt-free” in order to get married, as we live in a day full of student loans, car payments, unexpected medical bills, and everything in between. But what I do believe is that everyone should have an active plan to pay off debts, and be taking steps in that direction as a way to prepare themselves for marriage.
I have a REALLY hard time interacting with people who spend freely on Starbucks, manicures, daily eating out, NetFlix, and Apple Products, but then tell me that they can’t afford counseling, education, and resources that would help them become healthier and stronger. To me, this is not a matter of finances but a matter of priorities.
We tend to be a society that is quick to spend money on entertainment, yet hesitant to invest in our own personal well-being. We are amusing ourselves to the point of being unhealthy, and that is something I simply do not have sympathy for. I’m not saying you should never spend your money on entertainment, because there is a time and place for that, but what I am saying is you shouldn’t spend it at the SACRIFICE of something more important. Use your money wisely, because only those who can be trusted with little will be the ones who can be entrusted with more.
No matter where you are on the financial spectrum, you can always take what you have and use it to honor God, to bless people, and to invest in your personal well-being. Take responsibility of your finances right here and right now – in preparation for the roles of marriage, family, and children that might be just around the corner. The work you do NOW will always reap great reward LATER. So be faithful with little….and then trust God with the rest.
For more on how to plan and prepare for a healthy marriage check out Choosing Marriage!
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, and Choosing Marriage: Why It Has To Start With We > Me where she writes candidly about love, sex, dating, relationships, and marriage. You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!