In any contemporary society, three classes of couples could be identified, namely: the salary earning, the self-employed and the one employed/other self-employed couples respectively.
The Salary Earning Couple -The salary earning couple simply means that both the husband and his wife are gainfully employed either as public servants or factory workers. In this case, their income is fixed, prompt and regular, too.
The Self-Employed Couple -The self-employed couples are into private business either jointly or severally. In this case their income may not be fixed, prompt and regular.
The One Employed/Self-Employed Couple -One of these couple is gainfully employed with a fixed, prompt and regular income. The other is into a private business wit a non-fixed, non-prompt and irregular income.
The Ideal Status
Irrespective of above classes of couple, it is ideal that the husband’s income be higher than that of his wife as the bread-winner of the home, according to the biblical stand point. A husband would stand his grounds where he does not shy away from his financial obligations and responsibilities to his wife. He must not be among the class of husbands who cleverly shift their financial responsibilities on their wives.
However, most women, by virtue of their educational status and parental influence earn more than their husbands either as business merchants or public servants. It is not biblically ideal for a husband to be under the control, influence or manipulations of his wife’s finances. Nevertheless, he should not be too spiritual or envious that he rejects here financial assistance. Most women are tenderhearted, merciful, generous, loving and caring. They could give everything they have to their husbands, shouldering his financial responsibilities but on the condition of trust.
The financial management responsibilities in a Christian home are the exclusive preserve of the husband but not without his wife. They should make their budget and agree on their expenditure not as individuals but a couple.
Budgeting is not only vital but also essential to effective Financial Management in a Christian Home. This budget includes items such a Tithes, Feeding Allowance, Rents, Electricity and Telephone Bills, Transport, Fuel and Maintenance of the car, waste Disposal, Children’s Allowance, Savings and others. Budgeting allows for the allocation of sufficient funds to each of the items. The husband could keep labeled envelopes for each item. The wife must conduct a market research prior to the family budget to compare the prices of items to buy, having the overview of the market situation as it affects or may affect their budget.
A Christian couple must live within their income. They should not borrow except for capital expenditure. God’s commandment in this respect as contained in Deuteronomy 15.6 is that: “you will lend unto many nations but you will not borrow.” Ellen G White in her counsel on Stewardship wrote, as follows: “Many, very many, have not so educated themselves that they can keep their expenditure within the limit of their income. They do not learn to adapt themselves to circumstances, they borrow and borrow again and again and become overwhelmed in debt, and consequently they become discouraged and disheartened. We should be on guard, and not allow ourselves to spend money upon that which is not necessary, and simply for display. We should not permit ourselves to indulge in tastes that lead us to pattern after the customs of the world, and rob the treasury of the Lord.”
Several marriages ended up in divorce because of greed and lack of budgeting. For example, a civil servant on grade level 03 would buy an elegant food flask in the month of January, latest shoe design in February, expensive attire in March and so on, throughout the year. At the end of it all, he would argue that any civil servant, irrespective of his level, who succeeds in life, is a pen-robber!
Family Finance -Planning and Policy
The income of a Christian couple is better managed, using the economic tool of a scale of preference, with a clear boundary between the family needs and wants. It could come under the following Financial Policies:
Subsistence Economic Policy -In this home, all members of the family, including the children live on wages. They all contribute directly or not, to the Family Economy. For example, the child may have to play the gardener for a living in the home. As a girl, she may play the Nanny or Sales girl or something else!
Socialist Economic Policy -In this home, the couple, with or without other members of the family, contribute equally or otherwise to the upkeep of the home., Decisions as regards the family expenditure are taken by one partner on behalf of the other. The husband and his wife are joint owners of the family heritage.
Capitalist Economic Policy -In this home, there is a sharp division between the breadwinner and other members of the family. Usually, the husband is the breadwinner of the home. He dictates what should be bought, why, when and how! He makes sufficient provision for his home, without having to look up to his wife for any form of financial support. He sets up a business for her with the expectation of returns via the preparation of sumptuous meals, beautification of the living room and the meeting of other variable needs.
Communist Accounting Policy -In recent times, there has been a widespread propagation of the “common purse” or “joint account” policy of effective money management in a Christian home. Some couples have practiced this policy successfully while others have failed.
The Need to Tithe
Christian couples that desire to have surplus budget must be obedient to God’s commandment on tithes and offering. It should be the couple’s priority to separate one tenth of their gross income as God’s rightful due. In Malachi 3.8-11, it is explicitly stated that non-tithers are robbers of God’s treasury who are under the curse of poverty, lack and want! The biblical reason why many Christians toil fruitlessly is because of their disobedience to this commandment.
“You have sown much, and harvested little: you eat but you never have enough: you drink, but you never have your fill: you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into bag of holes…you have looked for much, and lo, 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 lies in ruins while you busy yourselves each with his own house -Haggai 1.4-11
The Need To Save
The problem with some Christian couple is in their inability to save for their future. This is due either to insufficient income or wrong interpretation of Matthew 6.19 that: Do not keep up for yourselves treasures on earth. In both cases, these couples are wrong. In the first instance, if they could not save Ten Dollars out of every Hundred Dollars earned as income today, it will be impossible for them to save Fifty Dollars out of every One Thousand Dollars they might earn tomorrow. In the other instance, not laying up treasures here on earth does not refer to savings.
Treasure is a vested and acquired wealth or property in which one’s interests and desire incline to. Savings is something that can be conveniently put away for a period of time and for a raining day. Our world is full of uncertainties. Erosion, flood or fire disaster may destroy lives and properties. The child could be sick of fever. Parents, friends, or relations could make financial demands. Above all, the Church could call on us to give to charity and the cause of evangelism. Ellen G. White wrote that “We sin against ourselves when we are satisfied with enough to eat and drink and wear. God has something higher than this before us. Even though they may be poor, the couple who is industrious and economical can save a little for the cause of God, success and charity.”
It is not sinful to save. It can be sinful not to save. One hindrance to savings by the above stated couple is their faith in the belief that this present world would come to an end abruptly someday. But their ignorance is in the fact that this someday may not come in the next one hundred years! In this instance their savings would be a preparation for their old age. Also, other Christian partners and missionaries would need our savings for the continuous propagation of the gospel prior to the arrival of Jesus Christ.
Three vital questions to savings are: when should one start to save, how much should one save and, by what method?
1. Start to save as soon as you collect your first allowance. Salary, wage or gift. As a couple, begin the very first night of your wedding, especially with your wedding gifts and presents.
2. Save whatever you can conveniently put away, knowing that” little drops of water make a might ocean” Save at least five Dollars out of every fifty. Put aside a certain percentage of your income for a defined period of time to start a project, trade or purchase home equipment. For example, put away X Dollars every month for twelve months to buy a Refrigerator or Y Dollars monthly for twenty-five years, to build a house. It is possible!
3. Several other methods of savings include Property acquisitions. Buy don’t sell. Buy radios, television and video sets. Buy Refrigerators and Air-conditioners. But make sure you invest in properties whose value appreciates. They should have second-hand value. Besides, they must be materials that are needed at home for production purposes, not for showmanship. Put money into a fixed account. Save (y) Dollars every month for twelve months and then transfer it into a fixed deposit for five or more years. Buy shares in growing companies. Take a policy with a reliable insurance company. Go for life policy, Education fund. Buy landed properties for resale at a later date. Buy and refurbished cars for sale. However, be cautious. Do not save more than you can conveniently afford. Striving to save two thousand Dollars out of an income of Five Thousand Dollars may be frustrating!