I was 43 when Keith and I got married. Since we've only been married for 5 years, it's easy for me to remember what it was like to be financially single. I had a weird relationship with money and even though I had a few good money habits, I now know I was mostly a fiscal disaster.
My idea of what it meant to be financially healthy was severely skewed by what I learned about money growing up, the misinformation I stumbled upon throughout my life and a level of pridefulness that prevented me from seeking the financial help I needed.
I thought I had it all together. I thought I was "managing" my debt. I thought I could be financially well without a plan. I had no idea how wrong I was.
If I knew then what I know now about managing money, my life would be completely different.
But that's the story associated with any big paradigm shift.
Below are three things I have learned that would have made my "single money" work much better!
1. Have a plan. There are two comments we often hear when teaching Financial Peace University or beginning a financial coaching relationship with a single person. The first is that they only have half of the money of married couples and therefore should not be expected to do the same things married couples do (i.e., get out of debt, save to pay cash for large purchases, do a budget, etc.). Many singles believe they can't set goals or create a financial plan because they don't make enough money. That is not true. Any amount of income is stretched when there's a plan in place to use it.
Andy Stanley says in the book "The Principle of the Path" that “we don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” We have to be intentional in how we use the money that is available to us, regardless of whether we are single or married.
I was very reactive when it came to money when I was single. I had not yet learned the principles outlined in the Bible about how to create a financial plan and follow it.
Luke 14:28 says "but don't begin before you count the cost." I did not do this.
Instead of slowing down and limiting spending in order to plan for larger purchases, I plowed ahead saving a little and spending more. I often had a budget written out, but I rarely made it concrete. It was more of a suggestion than an actual plan.
Singles and married couples alike...make a plan each month and watch your financial wellness thrive.
2. Find an accountability partner. The second thing we often hear from singles in our coaching sessions is "I'm glad I'm single because I don't have to be accountable to anyone but myself."
We were not meant to be alone, including when managing our money. God wants us to live in community and having an accountability partner is a great way to make sure your plan we discussed above stays on track and is achieved.
Genesis 2:18 tells us that “it is not good for man to be alone." While the original context of this passage was the marriage of Adam and Eve, I believe it can also apply to accountability partners for singles.
When I was single, I had a Board of Directors for my life. This was a group of people whose opinions I valued and I went to them for advice on many areas of my life. But I had no one on my Board to discuss money matters! I honestly never thought about having a financial accountability partner.
If I had, chances are good that I would not have used the wrong realtor to sell a home (lost over $80K on that deal). I would not have jumped into entrepreneurship without an emergency fund in place. And I would have had external guidance and support for some really tough financial choices.
Bob Beaudine says in "The Power of Who," "when we allow others access to our personal world, we give them the opportunity to see into us in ways we're not able to see ourselves."
I missed the opportunity for others to see my financial naivete by not seeking out an accountability partner for money matters.
Don't be fooled by society into thinking you can do it all yourself. God did not intend for us to be alone...even when we're single!
3. Give. I was not a generous giver (beyond tithing) before embracing a life of Christ-centered financial wellness. I had a spirit of lack which falsely caused me to believe I did not have enough for myself, which meant I did not have enough to give to anyone else. I have no idea how much of God's handiwork I missed out on because I shut myself off from giving to others. Give of your time, give of your abilities, tithe and if you're out of debt, donate to charitable causes.
I'm thankful I've learned the beauty of Christ-centered financial wellness, even though I didn't do so prior to getting married. If you're single...I pray I've given you food for thought. If you're married...please share this article with a single friend!
What about you? What financial moment did you have as a single (either now or before you got married) where you knew you would benefit from having someone walking alongside you?
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Until next week...be well...be encouraged.