Help! He's a Saver, I'm a Spender
We have said so many times to each other, we do so many things well in our marriage, but when it comes to money we are so opposite! Mike felt justified as the “saver” because that represented caring for our family. I felt justified as the “spender” because I was buying things our family needed. Money meant different things to each of us. It’s easy to see why money is the number one cause of marital problems in America. Ministry couples are no exception. We tried every conceivable way to manage our family finances. In the end we always ended up in an argument. By God’s grace, we were led to a Bible study on managing the resources God has given us called Crown Ministries (www.crown.org). Mike was anxious to sign us up, because he thought it was just what I needed! I dreaded it.
Through this study, our hearts changed as our approach to managing our finances changed. Mike learned that his behavior as a “saver” wasn’t righteous at all. Actually, he had become a “hoarder,” and didn’t trust God to provide for our needs. I learned that my behavior as a “spender” wasn’t righteous either because I provided for our needs with credit cards and cash flow. I, too, didn’t trust God. We were both part of the problem. God brought about slow and gradual changes in the way we approached each other on the subject of finances. It was no longer about “he said” or “she said,” but rather about what “God says.”
The first thing that changed was praying together regularly about our finances, especially when it came time to pay the monthly bills or update our home budget (we do this about twice a year). Previously, Mike would do the budget, then tell me what we had to spend. Now, we a budget tool from Crown Ministries and each prepare a draft based on what we think our family priorities should be. In the end, we come up with a final budget as a team. It is no longer Mike’s budget for me to comply with, but our budget.
Another practical tool we have adopted in our marriage is the basic envelope system as a way to control spending and set limits. We use “cash only” for certain categories such as food, entertainment, and miscellaneous. We have an actual envelope that contains the budgeted amount for each of these categories. The amount of money in the envelope helps our entire family make appropriate spending choices when the envelopes are running low.
The “Money Motivation Quiz” also greatly helped us (see below). Results revealed that for Mike, money meant security, which led to his “saver” mentality. For me, it meant love, which led to my “spender” behavior. As he was trying to care for me and our children by saving, I was busy trying to love them by spending. We were both convinced our behavior was correct.
There are no right or wrong answers with the money motivation quiz. It will simply show you the motivation behind what you do with your money. We find it interesting that these areas of money motivation – freedom, love, power, and security – are things we are all looking for in life. Money is the counterfeit provision for all of these needs. God alone can love, empower, care for, and free us as we trust and walk with Him.
God has made it very clear to us that in the area of finances we need to keep a very close eye on things. When our marriage or our individual walks with God start to get off track, it always shows up in our finances. He allows us to minister to others in this area so we will constantly be communicating with Him and with each other about it. We teach from what we’ve learned – the hard way!
Yes, we still disagree at times about finances and situations occur in our household some months that blow up the budget, but it’s so much better than it was. We have seen God give us peace, contentment, and the desire to trust Him with this part of our marriage. God cares about your finances whatever your situation is. Applying biblical principles to your finances can change your attitude and approach so that you will experience freedom and break the bondage money can have on your marriage.
Take the MONEY MOTIVATION Quiz:
Directions: For each of the following questions, circle the letter that best describes your response. This is a sampling of the full quiz that you can take on www.crown.org. It’s meant to get you and your spouse started in talking about your money issues.
- Money is important because it allows me to…
- Do what I want to do.
- Feel secure.
- Get ahead in life.
- Buy things for others.
- When it comes to saving money, I…
- Don’t have a plan and rarely save.
- Have a plan and stick to it.
- Don’t have a plan, but manage to save anyway.
- Don’t make enough money to save.
- When I make a major purchase, I…
- Go with what my intuition tells me.
- Research a great deal before buying.
- Feel I’m in charge – it’s my/our money.
- Ask friends/family first.
- When it comes to borrowing money I…
- Simply won’t/don’t like to feel indebted.
- Only borrow as a last resort.
- Tend to borrow from banks or other business sources.
- Ask friends and family because they know I’ll pay.
- If I suddenly came into a lot of money, I…
- Wouldn’t have to work.
- Wouldn’t have to worry about the future.
- Could really build up my business.
- Would spend a lot on family and friends and enjoy time with them more.