The Word of God has basic principles that govern every aspect of marriage, including His minimum financial standards.
Although most times these biblical principles are in marked contrast with the world’s ideas concerning money, if couples will dedicate themselves to living by God’s principles they will avoid many potential financial problems.
The OPM principle
The primary financial principle taught to married couples by the world’s financial institutions is called OPM, or Other People’s Money.
However, this principle is nothing more than a credit mentality and a credit standard — the ability to borrow that allows couples to buy things they really cannot afford to buy.
This principle works great during the early years of marriage, because it allows couples to accumulate a lot of things they otherwise cannot afford to buy.
Unfortunately, there always comes a day of reconciliation, when the bills for all those things comes due.
Before they realize it, because they built too much too quickly, using too much debt, married couples find themselves in debt far beyond their ability to repay.
God’s minimum standards
God requires minimum financial standards of finance in marriage for His people.
If couples establish these minimum standards and determine to make them an essential part of their financial management, they will, without a doubt, lay a strong foundation for a healthy and balanced marriage.
The following are four primary minimum standards of finance found in God’s Word that all couples are encouraged to adopt.
God owns everything.
“We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7). Once couples accept the fact that God owns everything and that they have been chosen to be stewards or managers of God’s property, it’s important for them to manage according to His principles and standards.
It’s how we faithfully manage what He has given us that will determine whether He will give us greater things to manage. “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:23).
So, since in a marriage a husband and wife are one, the financial assets and incomes of both husband and wife should be merged and they should operate from a unified financial management base, rather than from a separate and independent management base.
Think ahead and avoid problems.
“Which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) Too often couples put off planning until it they are so deeply in debt that it seems impossible to get out. By then it is too late to plan, except for crisis planning. Couples need to begin planning by writing down their goals and objectives, which should include a yearly balanced budget.
These goals and objectives need to be reviewed yearly. Obviously one of the first goals is to avoid financial bondage by staying out of additional debt and commiting to pay off existing debt.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they shouldn’t borrow, but borrowing to buy consumables, such as gifts, vacations, and clothes, should be avoided. This type of credit debt will put a couple back into insurmountable debt faster than they can pay themselves out of it.
Keep good records.
“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4). It is impossible for couples to have their finances under control unless they understand the basics of good bookkeeping.
Recently it was discovered that less than two out of 10 couples know how to actually balance their checkbooks. This means that many married couples seldom know how much money they have to spend or how much they are spending.
Couples should develop their financial plans together and work together. But there should be only one bookkeeper in the home who pays the bills. Two bookkeepers invite bookkeeping disaster.
“The naï believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps” (Proverbs 14:15). Most financially naï couples are not stupid regarding money; they are just unknowledgeable and do not understand how borrowing and interest rates work. As a result, their primary concern becomes “How much are the monthly payments?” rather than “How much is this going to ultimately cost?”
In addition, many times the naï people borrow more money than they can repay because they have no budget. In essence, they have no idea where their money goes each month or how much credit their income can support.
Couples need to learn financial management and budgeting and use that information to avoid debt or financial problems.
Conclusion God’s Word provides standards for managing money that are essential for marital unity. If couples study these biblical principles, learn them and put them into practice in their marriage, and adhere to those standards no matter how tempted they are to adopt the world’s standards, their marriages will be strong and will remain sound.
Reprinted with permission from Crown Financial Ministries, www.crown.org.