Budgeting Saved my Marriage and my Ministry

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Statistics say that the average person makes around 35,000 decisions each day.

  • Should I hit the snooze or get up?
  • Should I eat oatmeal or cereal?
  • Should I wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?
  • Should I watch the news or read a book?

Most of these are mundane, insignificant choices that don’t cross our minds again once they are made. However, a study from Columbia University found that out of those 35,000 decisions, about 70 of those are decisions that weigh on us throughout the day – decisions that impact the well being of our spouses and families, our physical, spiritual and mental health, work life, and finances.

As we become entangled with worry over these 70 or so decisions, we may find ourselves fatigued, stressed or anxious. For those of us in ministry, these daily concerns only compound the stress of the incessant and often unrealistic demands we face. What if I told you some of these decisions were causing you unnecessary stress? And what if you could eliminate those factors? If you can hang in here with me for a few minutes, I would like to offer you some advice that has helped me de-tangle from some of these worries. To start, let me explain the “why.”

If you’re like me, you’re probably not rolling in the dough. It’s also likely that you’re either married, soon-to-be married, or diligently seeking after that significant other. And because 40-50% of marriages end in divorce and because finances are the number two reason for divorce (behind extra-marital affairs), I am writing this. Let me just say it like this: Budgeting has saved my marriage and my ministry.

Six years ago, I picked up the book “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. I was starting my ministry career and good stewardship was a virtue that I felt was essential to pursue. After finishing the book I began applying a few of the principals, but I never completely sold out to the idea of living a debt free life. Following a couple of bad financial decisions, my wife and I realized we had dug ourselves into a small hole.

A few years later, a member of our church started a Financial Peace University class and we made sure to attend every session. We immediately changed our financial habits by introducing the principles we had learned to our lifestyle. Today we are completely debt free!

It is only by the grace of God that my marriage is healthy and my ministry is thriving. I don’t believe, however, that this would possible without the wisdom and insight that God has bestowed upon me concerning financial stewardship. By taking control of our finances within our home, we were able to avoid what could have been a disaster concerning money in our marriage. Because of the stress and pressure that was relieved within our home life and marriage, my ministry, by default, was allowed room to thrive. So how exactly did budgeting save my marriage and ministry? Let me explain.

In 2010, I heard Steven Furtick preach a sermon explaining “The power of a ‘pre-decision’”. To summarize, he explained that by making a decision before you get into the situation, it is easier to have victory in that decision. For example, a young girl decides that she wants to stay sexually pure. By making that “pre-decision”, that young girl has already answered several other questions before they were even asked. Questions like: Should I be alone with my boyfriend? To paraphrase the example that Steven Furtick gave, “When you’re in the backseat of your boyfriends car and the windows are all fogged up, it’s too late to decide if you’re going to stay pure or not.” My point: there is power in a “pre-decision” and budgeting can be one of the best decisions that you ever make.

Dave Ramsey says, “you can either tell your money where to go or you can wonder where it went”. Budgeting is exactly that- telling your money where to go. When you make the decision to write out your budget, you are actually making a “pre-decision” – one that could eliminate several of the 70 decisions that bog you down each day. In turn, you untangle yourself from unnecessary stress, your marriage grows stronger, and you are able to focus more time on the things of God rather than focusing on whether or not you will be able to pay your light bill that month.

Maybe you’re one of the seventy-five percent of full-time workers that live paycheck to paycheck and you’re wondering where to begin. A good way to start is by creating a zero-based budget. You can do this by listing your income and expenses and putting a name on every dollar until you reach zero. If you were tech savvy enough to find this blog post, a great tool to use is the EveryDollar App. EveryDollar allows you to create a zero-based budget on any device and it is absolutely free. If you wish to connect your bank account to track expenses, you can upgrade to the full version. My wife and I have been using EveryDollar Plus since January and we absolutely love it!

Lastly, I recommend reading total money makeover and/or finding a Financial Peace Class near you. I firmly believe that as children of God, we ought to be good stewards of everything God has entrusted us with. Proverbs 22:7 says that “the borrower is slave to the lender.” With that being the case, I don’t believe that Jesus took on the cross to set us free, only that we might become slaves to our finances. I am convinced that God’s will for your life is freedom – and that includes financial freedom!

by Cody Griggs

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