God and money

Hello! I was looking for some simple advice or words of wisdom. I’m a new husband and also new father and just found out we have a 2nd child on the way! Haven’t even been married two years yet. This is all a blessing and I’m overwhelmed at God’s generosity. However, as a provider/husband/father, I’m facing an issue I’ve never quite faced before and was wondering if there was an easy spiritual solution (I do seek this answer in prayer, and was wondering maybe God will answer the prayer here). Or perhaps a Bible verse that I could repeat whenever I am attacked by this issue.

I am struggling specifically in my relationship with money. We live quite modestly now. My wife is still in school so I have the only source of income. We get by and bills are paid for, but I guess it’s the saving part I’m struggling with. We live in a small apartment and there’s a house to save for, two children’s college, and also retirement. I know certainly God wants us to take the narrow way, certainly not live for the pleasures of this world, to not serve mammon but rather God. I feel like God wants me to save for these things that are good (a house, college education, retirement) and I don’t think I’m being greedy at all by saving. My struggle is in the balance of everything: To take the narrow way yet still use money for God’s greater glory, to not serve mammon but yet still make the right decisions financially for my family.

I do feel like I get spiritually attacked about this and am just a little confused as far a what specifically to pray for. Even getting more specific with the attacks, I know for some of these long term things like retirement and saving for college I had to put my money in the stock market and obviously the stock market is tanking right now. God is of course way more powerful than the silly stock market but the devil tempts me into thinking too much about losing money and then I question what exactly I should be saving for and then at times just wish I didn’t have any money at all because I wouldn’t have this problem.

I have talked about this issue with a priest and while I agree with their advice (i.e. it’s all God’s money anyways) it still can be difficult.

Stocks are somewhat of a risky investment. For the future, what about CDs?

Praying for you and your family.

You might benefit a lot from Dave Ramsey’s program. He’s Evangelical Protestant, but it’s a good program, and is compatible with Catholic living. Here are his Baby Steps:

daveramsey.com/baby-steps/

The Baby Steps are explained in more detail in the book The Total Money Makeover, which you can probably find at your library. At this point in your life, DR would probably tell you to pay off all of your debts (if any), save a 3-6 month emergency fund and then start saving a downpayment. After you do that and purchase a house, you start saving 15% of income for retirement and save for kids’ college. DR would encourage people to give 10% of income throughout that time, but without being legalistic about it. (Catholics aren’t required to give any particular percentage of income, so feel free to adjust that to whatever is reasonable for your situation.)

(You should also get term life insurance immediately if you don’t have it already.)

The nice thing about the Baby Steps is that they give you a plan of action to follow. Financial stuff can be overwhelming because there are so many things to do at once. It helps a lot to do just one thing at a time initially.

you are never going to go wrong with systematicinvestment in an indexed mutual fund

i am not selling anything but i would recommend vanguard

ave maria may have an indexed fund; not sure

btw dave ramsey has expressed certain opinions that are i’ll just say are not favorable to catholic orthodoxy

i’ll leave it at that

crisismagazine.com/2013/of-dave-ramsey-babies-and-birth-control

truthandcharity.net/does-dave-ramsey-discourage-big-families/

I’ve run into that article before on CAF.

Basically, DR said that the caller’s family will have a harder time paying off debt because they have a large family. Not exactly controversial.

Here’s the full DR transcript to give the context:

daveramsey.com/index.cfm?event=askdave/&intContentItemId=119391

"QUESTION: Karen in Los Angeles and her husband have seven children. They have a financially conservative family, but how do they handle such a wide range of ages of children? What parts of Dave’s program work for large families? Dave says all of it works for a large family, but they just have more expenses.

"ANSWER: The program doesn’t change one ounce. What does change is—and you already knew this long before you met Dave Ramsey—when you choose to have seven children, that is called a lot of financial burden. It’s not a criticism; it’s just a mathematical fact. When you break the three- or four-kid plane over into the five, six, seven, eight, nine plane and above, the numbers change pretty dramatically. From one to two to three, you don’t feel it—much. One to three, the cost of raising a kid is not that much different. But when you kick it into overdrive like that, you’ve done two things. One is you extend the time that you’re going to be dealing with kids financially. Two is you’ve got a lot of baby birds to feed. It slows down the plan. It slows down you hitting big financial goals or little financial goals because you’ve got this drain on the math. It’s a wonderful drain; it’s a glorious drain, but it’s a drain.

"It does work, and it works exactly the same, but the point is it’s going to work slower. You don’t have any choice but to do a budget. Just because you have seven kids doesn’t mean that gives you an excuse to live out of control or that living out of control with no game plan is the definition of success. No way. Everybody gets a broken car around the time they start this stuff. It’s like a federal law.

"All of the things that have to do with this, you’ve got to set more emergency categories aside in your budget. You’ve got to budget heavier for food. You’ve got to budget heavier for medical. You’ve got to budget heavier for transportation. You’ve got all these different things pulling at this, and the reality is it doesn’t mean you don’t live with a plan. It just means that your plan clearly states that you’re going to move slowly. You already knew this instinctively. You’re not going to be fleet of foot and run from the cheetah because you’re carrying too much. You’re going to be a Clydesdale, but the Clydesdale wins. They just win in a different fashion than the gazelle wins.

“Your only option is to work a plan, because working a plan will always get you further than not working a plan.”

The Crisis Magazine author, on the other hand, just threw in the towel.

Coincidentally, I received an email this morning of a new post at seedtime.com that says:

1. Money Issues Need To Be Talked About

Many people try to avoid subjects (or really anything) they don’t like or are afraid of. You have to face the giants. If your finances are a mess, you have to face up to the truth. How can you expect to move a mountain that you refuse to admit exists?

2. Decide What You Want To Accomplish – Together

In order to succeed financially as a team, you have to have unity. You may not agree on everything, but find those areas that you are in agreement and shoot toward those goals.

They will be a lot easier to attain if you are both putting focused energy towards them rather than pulling against each other for your own thing.

3. Realize That You Balance Each Other Out

This might not be the case for everyone, but for my wife and I, this was clearly one of the reasons God brought us together. We both bring different financial mindsets to the table and it keeps us in proper balance. If one is a spender and the other is a saver, I got news for you: it is probably by design.

If my wife were just like me, we would be living an unbalanced life, probably saving too much for the future and not focusing enough on today. We both bring balance to each other’s life financially.

In our case, we both had to make sacrifices to meet in the middle, but because of it we are living more in line with God’s best for us.

4. Support Your Spouse (Yes, Even If They Have Problems)

It is so critically important to cut each other some slack and allow your spouse an opportunity to grow. None of us are perfect and we all have areas to grow in.

Part of the growing process involves making mistakes, so if your spouse isn’t being as financially disciplined as you are – cut him/her some slack.

If you are constantly nagging your spouse about money (or anything for that matter), it doesn’t give them much incentive to change and it keeps them from being open with you about their failures.

Being able to encourage each other when either one of you fails is very important.

5. A Budget Is Necessary

Living on a budget is different for a single person than it is for a married couple. Let me say, I think everyone should use some sort of a budget, but especially married couples.

The reason being is that a single person who doesn’t budget ultimately knows that the responsibility for the bills, debt, consequences, etc. will fall on them.

When a couple lives without a budget, they both can be secretly thinking, “well, I will let my spouse take care of it,” and things can fall through the cracks. Having a budget creates an unbiased system to hold both parties accountable for their actions.

6. Individual Spending Money Is Necessary

It is way too much of a hassle to have to discuss EVERY purchase you make. Each person needs a specific (and small) amount that they can spend however they choose – but just like allowance, no more when it is gone.

It has worked well for us to make this cash solely for individual, miscellaneous purchases – going out to eat, clothes, buying food for potluck at work, etc. You can look at how we manage our money, but basically 95% goes to our joint accounts to pay our bills, pay debt, common saving goals, etc.

7. Eliminate Sources Of Strife

This was eye-opening to me. When we first got married, we paid for gas for our own car out of our individual spending money. It just seemed logical to me and seemed like it would work fine.

We only had a limited amount of spending money for each of us and it would be enough to cover the gas for the week and other miscellaneous things we needed like I mentioned above.

The problem arose in a very subtle way – we both seemed to be keeping a mental list of how often we drove places together in each other’s car. And of course, we both often thought that we were driving our car more than the other person.

We really were not selfish in other areas of our marriage, but that one small thing was causing unnecessary strife. Now we pay for all of the gas out of a joint account – problem solved.

Apart from that blogger, I too recommend Dave’s Ramsey philosophy.

I don’t have any financial advice except that you only lose on the stock market when you liquidate your losses by selling.
Your first responsibility is to your family as you would be the first to agree. I would consider your children a reasonable charity to give to and ignore the professional charity or church that tells you to give 10% of your salary. This is madness for a young family. That ten percent should go into a capital secure savings investment. A budget is essential. Communication and agreement with the wife is essential. Complete trust is essential.
It may be God’s money but he has given it to you as a reward for talents used in the love of your family. Get life and income protection insurance.
It is not the devil that makes you worry about losing money, it is called common sense.
I am not into prosperity christianity as I believe it is contrary to God’s contract with us. However there is nothing wrong with putting the hard word on a good Friend. Tell Him it is a loan. You won’t have it by the time you get to see Him and as long as He sees the investment in your love and protection of your family He will write it off. Ask Him. He can only say no.
Don’t blame the devil for your common sense concern for your finances. Budget and live within it. Just don’t forget to hug the kids and enjoy.

One thing that that post covers pretty well is that there is a relational aspect to family finance and that having good communication and cooperation with regard to money and family budgeting puts a couple on track toward good communication and cooperation across the board.

I just remembered–Dave Ramsey normally tells expectant couples to pause in their debt repayment and just save a large emergency fund to deal with the unforeseen.

If things go great, you can use the large emergency fund for the baby steps. If there is an emergency, you use the emergency to cover the emergency.

DR recommends the same method (pause and save) for other emergencies, for instance unemployment and major illness.

I believe the way our world, societies, and our daily lives are ‘set up’, it is no coincidence money is held in such high regard.

I finally got around to reading your second link (I am familiar with the Becker article in the first) and I was very surprised to discover that Sciba’s article disagrees with Becker.

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