Posts Tagged ‘Finances’

And they have gathered the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers and the workmen.” 2 Chronicles 34:17 (NKJV)

Researchers at the Brookings Institution, the Federal Reserve Board and UCLA suggest credit scores may also offer important insight when it comes to long-term relationships.  The analysis was based on credit records from 12 million consumers gathered over 15 years by Equifax, which is one of the big three U.S. credit reporting agencies.

Jane Dokko, one of the authors, cautioned TODAY’s A. Pawlowski[i]  “It’s also important to remember that there are aspects of credit scores that people can’t control.”  For instance, she said, “If you can’t pay your bills because you lose your job, there’s not a whole lot that you can do about that, if you got unlucky.”

We have to recognize that the financial picture of a person does not reveal anything about a person’s warmth, their sense of humor, how loving or lovable they are, and other important personal traits.  As Pawlowski writes, “The sample did not contain any personally identifiable information, so to find couples, the researchers looked for people who started to share the same address in a particular quarter and lived together for at least a year and three months, which would likely exclude many roommate relationships. Almost 50,000 couples matched those criteria.

Many years ago these words were written to young people: “In business, men and women manifest great caution. Before engaging in any important enterprise, they prepare themselves for their work. Time, money, and much careful study are devoted to the subject, lest they shall make a failure in their undertaking…How much greater caution should be exercised in entering the marriage relation–a relation which affects future generations and the future life? Instead of this, it is often entered upon with jest and levity, impulse and passion, blindness and lack of calm consideration.”[ii]

Father God, help me to take the counsel of experts and my elders into consideration as I pursue a relationship which may lead to marriage.  I want it to be as lasting as life and pleasing to you and not just us.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/will-your-relationship-last-your-credit-score-may-hold-answer-t49116

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home, p. 72

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A feast is made for laughter, And wine makes merry; But money answers everything. Ecclesiastes 10:19 (NKJV)

Financial guru Suze Orman is known for telling people “FICO first, then sex.”  What she means is that you need to find out your date’s FICO score, which is a measure of how likely someone is to pay their bills on time or repay a loan, before you get more serious about a relationship.  Researchers at the Brookings Institution, the Federal Reserve Board and UCLA suggest credit scores may also offer important insight when it comes to long-term relationships.  Jane Dokko, one of the authors, told TODAY’s A. Pawlowski[i]  “We find that the farther apart the two people’s scores are, the more likely they are to separate.”  She added, “One possible explanation is the idea that the credit scores don’t just measure how likely you are to pay your bills on time, but that particular behavior is generally correlated with more general reliability, or how trustworthy you are.”

Here are some of the other findings of the research which focused on the Equifax “risk score:”

  • People with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships than those with lower financial grades.
  • Partners who each have a high credit score at the start of their romance are more likely to stay together.
  • Couples with the lowest average scores at the beginning of their relationship are up to three times more likely to separate than couples with the highest average scores.
  • People tend to pair up with partners who have a similar financial grade.

Pawlowski writes that “In a way, credit scores may offer a glimpse into someone’s character. A person who fulfills his financial commitments — like repaying a loan — may be equally serious about his commitment to be faithful and supportive of his spouse.  When partners have a big gap in their scores, it’s a mismatch in trust-worthiness that may affect the stability of a household. (will continue)

Father, help me to pay attention to the financial aspects of our life.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/will-your-relationship-last-your-credit-score-may-hold-answer-t49116

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The macho effect

The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. Proverbs 31:11 (NKJV)

TODAY’s Joan Raymond[i] writes that in an analysis of more than 2,750 married people, ages 18 to 32, both men and women are more likely to cheat on their spouses the more they depend on their partners for money. Interestingly, men who are economically dependent on their wives are the most likely to cheat.

As study author Christin Munsch explains, married couples “like feeling relatively equal in their relationships.  People don’t like to feel dependent on another person.” The study shows that in an average year, there is about a 5 percent chance that women who are completely economically dependent on their husbands will cheat, whereas the rate jumps to 15 percent for men who are completely monetarily dependent on their wives.  Raymond explains that the higher infidelity rate among economically dependent men may be a way for men to compensate for a perceived loss of machismo, or as a way for men to “punish or distance themselves” from their primary breadwinning partner.

Keep in mind that according to the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey, infidelity increased from 3.5 percentage points over the course of two decades from 10.0% in 1991 to 13.5 percent in 2010.  That means the majority of couples don’t cheat.  As Munsch makes it clear, “Even in our study, it’s clear the majority of people do not cheat on their spouses, despite what they contribute in terms of income to a marriage.”  She adds, “I don’t want the punchline to be don’t let a man be economically dependent on you.  Instead, why don’t you marry a person who is secure in his masculinity and isn’t threatened by what you earn.”

One important lesson from this study for us is that we need to contribute and appreciate our spouse’s contribution to our marriage and family and to keep in mind that money is not the only contribution we make.  Depending on money alone for meaning and significance can leave us very empty, brokenhearted, and empty inside.

Father God, help me to contribute to our marriage in every way I can, not just financially, but also emotionally and with my time.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/why-do-men-cheat-economic-dependence-big-reason-t23796?cid=eml_tes_20150601

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Bad financial planning

Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Isaiah 55:2 (NKJV)

Men and women look at love and relationships differently, but the way they perceive and handle money is poles apart.  Spouses who share a bank account may have very different approaches to how they spend money, how they save it, or about financial planning for the future; sadly, these differences can make for some big mistakes they both make. Here are some of those financial mistakes that men and women make as expressed by Allison Nazarian[i].

Money mistakes men make.  Older men tend to be more aggressive in their investment habits.  Younger men, on the other hand, procrastinate. Risk isn’t their big issue, it’s taking action.  At the same time, men don’t always seek out advice and act on limited information which may lead to rash decisions.

Money mistakes women make.  The biggest mistake made by the older generation of women — baby boomers and older — is not getting involved in financial decisions.  Many women deferred all the financial decisions to their husbands only to realize, in their older years, they know very little about the financial picture of their life. At the same time, women may lack confidence in financial decision-making and worry far too much about money which may lead them to make very poor decisions.

What men and women do right.  Many younger women may have learned to avoid the mistakes they observed from the previous generation by taking more ownership of finances.  The reality is that women are better investors than men because they view things more holistically, which is great for long-term planning.  Men often look to technology, such as websites, financial software and other tools, to solve money problems and answer pressing questions. Women, on the other hand, aren’t as quick to go with the gadget or app.  Finances is a very important area where both spouses benefit from the wisdom, knowledge and experience of each other.

Father God, bless us and guide us as we make the financial decisions which will affect us individually and as a family.

[i] http://www.bankrate.com/finance/savings/financial-planning-flubs-men-and-women.aspx?ec_id=cmct_001_HP_image_headline

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Financial plans – 2

And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” Luke 22:35 (NKJV)


Before a couple gets married, they should take the time to talk about their financial plans and goals. Mary Bitsko[i] suggests two more questions they should discuss before they say I do.

  1. Do you divide the bills equally or pay a percentage? For those couples that choose to keep their finances separately, you need to decide whether you will divide the bills equally or use percentages. Some couples break down each bill based on salaries. For example, you make $500 more than your spouse, so your spouse believes you should pay a higher amount on the bills.  For those couples who choose to join all their finances  this should not be an issue.
  2. If you plan on having children, do you keep a separate account for them? Many couples who project a family of their own begin to invest in advance. They open a savings account for their children’s expenses. If you have plans of starting a family, it’s wise to open a joint account and deposit whatever amount possible.

There’s another question that should be resolved before tying the knot:  Will you tithe on the gross or on the net?  And the accompanying question is: How much, beside the tithes, will you give to the church?  It is important to understand and decide on this early on.  The bible teaches:  Set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field. Deuteronomy 14:22 (NRSV)   Based on this, the tithe should be based on the gross, that is, on the total we get before taxes are deducted.  Once you settle this part, you need to decide what percentage you will give for the needs of the local church for the church budget and for any special needs of projects it may have.

It is helpful to have a good talk about these issues and make the decision as to who will be in charge of the budget before saying “I do.”  You and your spouse will enter marriage with a financial plan in place, and a lower risk of financial problems.


Father, helps us to manage what you give us wisely and carefully that our finances may not be a problem but another way to honor you.

[i] Ibid.

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For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 (NKJV)


Before marriage, people have their own finances established.  They have individual bank accounts and complete control of their budget.  But once they get married their finances take on a different view.  They have separate incomes and separate bills that they will have to decide whether to join them or not.  They also have to decide who will responsible for keeping the household budget and paying the monthly bills.

Often, couples don’t talk about these things until after they have become husband and wife which can cause tension and arguments.  One or the other may want sole control of the budget. Many of the financial disagreements stem from lack of understanding how the finances will function in the household.

Mayra Bitsko[i] offers four tips on how you and your future spouse should decide your finances.  Discuss together the following questions:

  1. Who is more discipline with the budget? In most relationships, one person is a saver and the other a spender. Also, usually one person is more laid back on making full payments and pays the bills late. Therefore, the person who is strict with keeping a set budget should be the one to manage the finances, pay the bills, and take care of the budget. At the same time, both you and your spouse should be involved in the decision-making and the budgeting process. Both should know where the funds are going. This way no one person has complete control and knowledge but both are fully informed.
  2. Do you continue with separate or joint accounts? Some couples join their monies after marriage and others prefer keeping their own accounts. Though there is nothing wrong with either decision, it is important to discuss the matter before marriage so there are no surprises or false expectations. One option some have taken is to open a separate joint account solely for the household bills. Marriage should be about relinquishing rather than asserting power and control.


Father God, when we get married we become one flesh.  Remind us that our finances are part of the intimacy designed for us to enjoy.

[i] http://familyshare.com/4-tips-on-how-couples-should-decide-their-finances-before-marriage

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As an apricot tree stands out in the forest, my lover stands above the young men in town. All I want is to sit in his shade, to taste and savor his delicious love. Song of Songs 2:3 (MSG)


Before entering the estate of holy wedlock, make sure you talk about these things:

  1. Financial standing. Marriage is a commitment of love and life, a combining of households. Your partner’s debt becomes yours and vice versa. Not only should you talk about each other’s finances but you should have access to a credit report and to all bank statements. There should be nothing secret or sacred.  Ask the tough questions about income, savings, debt (including student leans, cars, mortgage, personal loans from family or friends, etc.), loan standing, repayment status, and credit score. You might find buying that dream home with your honey a lot harder than you thought.
  2. Full House. What do you think starting a family. Do you want children? How many?  And how soon?  If he doesn’t care for the idea of chasing rugrats for the next 18 years, and you can’t hear anything but the pitter-patter of little feet as that biological clock rings in your ear, you may have a mismatch on your hands.  This is particularly important if you’re considering marrying someone that has children.  Talk about how you will relate to your intended’s children or they to yours.  Who will discipline them and how.  Talk about appropriate boundaries.  Talk about the financial obligations to their or your children. Talk about how you or your fiancée will need to relate to former spouses, your children’s grandparents, and other members of the family.
  3. Fairytales. You need to ask why she really wants to get married. Get to the bottom of it. Does she feel safe, secure and valid for the first time in her life? Is she fulfilling family expectations? Does she want to fit in with all of her friends? Is marriage just a necessary step to her real dream of being a mom? Or is she escaping home problems, abuse, or an unhealthy home environment? Is your soon-to-be groom sick of spending Saturday nights alone while his buddies are enjoying family night, or did he just decide “it’s time?”


Father of love, help us to talk about these things seriously and today.

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Scripture: Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. Proverbs 11:24 (NLT)

Observation: Not every kind of scattering brings an increase. Careless giving often does harm both to the giver and to the receiver; but the loving, thoughtful endeavor to use one’s means to alleviate the sufferings and aid the struggles of those in need, brings wealth to both. The more the giver’s means are used to help others, the more he receives. The same is true of contributions made for the work of God (see v. 25). Withholding more than is right tends to poverty, both spiritual and material. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 3. 1977 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (986). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: The Bible teaches of the blessings of generosity in various places. Just a couple will suffice: “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.” (2 Cor 9:5) “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7).
Often we think of generosity in respect to money or things, which is true and accurate. God has blessed us with so much we take for granted. Generosity in returning God’s tithe and in giving of what we have left for the church and to help others was not just a good plan from God to keep His church going; He wanted to teach us lessons of generosity because it is indeed good for us. Those who hoard their blessings end up paranoid that everyone is out to get them and rob them and they end up being lonely and sad. Stories abound of people who have given large amounts of money to benefit others. Many of those stories are about people that others thought were poor, or who limited themselves to living in meager conditions but gave generously to others in greater need.

But when the Proverbs say to give freely I think it also refers to the time, the kindness, the attention, the help, and the love we give to those closest to us and even to those we are not related to. Don’t be stingy with these things, starting with your spouse, your children, your family. It is as if sometimes we reserve these things for others or we just simply don’t share any with anybody. The result is similar to those that hoard their money. . . we become lonely, cold, and sad. It is like Ebenezer Scrooge, rich but lonely and sad.

Give generously of yourself, starting with those closest to you. . . you will be richer than when you try to keep it all to yourself.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, Help us to recognize that everything belongs to you and you give us so much more than we deserve. In return, Father, as you have blessed us, help us to be generous so we may share your blessings with others.

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Enough Is Enough

Scripture: “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” . . . 9You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Haggai 1:6, 9 (NKJV)

Observation: Ironically, far from leaving them satisfied and content, the people’s focus on their own priorities leaves them hungry, thirsty, and penniless. The implication is that they are experiencing divine judgment for their disobedience (see Deut. 28:38–40), just as their ancestors had who were taken into exile. [Andrews Study Bible Notes. 2010 (J. L. Dybdahl, Ed.). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.]
Bag with holes. A striking figure of the lack of prosperity which Judah suffered because the people were not zealous in the Lord’s service. Such is the inevitable result of a materialistic philosophy of life. For comment on the relative value of spiritual and material things and the importance of making first things first see on Matt. 6:24–34; 19:21, 22. [The Seventh©day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 4. 1977 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application: What the prophet Haggai describes as taking place in Israel is so descriptive also of the attitude of so many in our day. People continue to work themselves to death in order to have the bigger house, the newer car, the latest electronic gadget, the finest clothes, the largest bank account. In that desperate search to be number one, the most famous, the fastest, the best, many have neglected, if not destroyed, what is really most important. Athletes have been injected with steroids and have grown in physical strength, wealth, and prominence only to be found out and stripped of their gold, their income, and their fame. Movie stars have gone in and out of rehabilitation centers, and many have even lost their lives or taken their lives while their loyal fans adore and even envy them.

One does not have to look at the rich and famous for this desire to be the best and have the most. At our place of work there are people willing to do anything to rise to the top. They will lie, cheat, betray co-workers, take credit for the work others have done, anything to be considered for higher positions in the company. At school, some students plagiarize assignments, pay others to do their work, or cheat on exams so they can have the best of grades.

Even in church we sometimes see people who want a particular position in church – they want to be the head deacon, the head elder, or the leader in some department. Some will even try to undermine the pastor or the church leaders in their pursuit of power, position, and control. It’s as if unless they are at the top they will not be happy.
Haggai puts things into a different perspective. The pursuit of happiness in wealth, power, control, fame, or anything else apart from God does not bring lasting satisfaction or true happiness. Looking to ourselves, or to others, rather than outside ourselves brings hopelessness and despair. It is in looking outside of ourselves, to God, that we can find true satisfaction, true joy, true happiness.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, help us to remove the focus off of ourselves and to turn our eyes toward you and toward the pursuit of helping others find you.

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