Carrie Soukup offers tips for mustering the strength to deal with financial matters.
I've had my head in the sand when it comes to money. I'm not sure how I accumulated all my inhibitions, fears, and triggers surrounding the green stuff but paying bills, planning for the future, and shuffling tax forms is enough to send me into a tailspin. Surprisingly, I’ve come to see that that dealing with our money issues has everything to do with God. On our path to financial freedom, we are never alone, never without guidance. God is vitally interested and can equip us to deal wisely with these matters.
If you are anything like me, you'd rather have a tea under the dining room table with your kids, organize a block party, or even clean the bathroom than think about compounding interest, tackle that medical insurance problem, or make sense of all the files on your computer and inbox.
Turns out there is good reason for a lot of us to want to ignore money problems. Pre-COVID, about half of American families were not able to withstand a $400 financial hiccup without either taking on debt or selling something. Money problems can stir up relationship tension: more than 40% of Gen-Xers who got divorced said that their relationships ended because of money. Debt, confusion, disorganization, and lack of knowledge is very common.
I was surprised about a month ago when one of my Facebook friends started posting about her credit card debt. She drives a big fancy car, goes on tropical vacations and sends her kids to a private school. While I was honored by her openness, her debt surprised me. But many people could relate. The post got quite a lot of attention and plenty of "me too" stories.
And then there are kids.
Kids who need their family's financial support. And even more than that, who need financial guidance to avoid being sucked into traps. Something about all this finally got to me this summer, and I decided to take my head out of the sand and start dealing more maturely with the financial issues in my household.
If you also want to come out of your shell and tackle finances in a godly manner, here are some helps:
1. Get emotional support.
Money touches on nerves -- both positive and negative. If you've been avoiding your money problems, you will need all of heaven behind you cheering along the way. Pray about your finances (and your feelings). I don't mean to pray for money (although I'm not totally opposed to that either). I mean, take all of your feelings about the task of dealing with money and put them in God's hands. Tell Him all the little things you may have to do and what you are feel about it. Tell God about finding your passwords, waiting on hold, getting paperwork from a relative, or keeping your files in order. Tell Him about things you've hidden or what you feel like you can't do without. Just talk openly with God about it. You may need some wise and friendly counsel as well, which brings me to the next tip...
2. Get with a program.
It can really help to find friendly experts to help you find the right path to get your "house in order." I'm sure there are many good programs out there but Money Matters with Catholic Compass literally fell in my lap as a godsend. I was fumbling with starting a teeny-tiny business and I muttered a prayer. Strangely enough, I don't like to ask for specific help from God, but I could see that I was in over my head and I asked, "God, I can't do this on my own. I'm really going to need someone to help me with finances. Can you please send me someone?" Two days later, I got an email from Catholic Compass asking if I would like to join a Bible study on the topic of money, faith, and finances with other bloggers like me. I learned a lot and felt strong guidance and fellowship with a group of other people who were trying to put their "house in order."
3. Study what God says about wealth.
This summer a handful of besties and I have been going through Old Testament hero stories together. I have been rather shocked to find a common theme of serving God wholeheartedly by involvement in the culture. It has led me to be more open to the idea that serving God can also encompass money. God's Word has so much to say about how we manage all the gifts given to us. And really everything we have is from Him. This is a beautiful and freeing theme from Money Matters which sets everything in perspective. For many people, studying God’s perspective on finances through Catholic Compass has re-oriented their marriages and helped them to see all of their family life, jobs, money, and materials in a new light.
4. Make it a family conversation.
Since my kids will likely take on many of my quirks and characteristics, I know that they also may follow in my financial footsteps. Recently, I've been trying to talk more openly about money -- from the nitty-gritty details of how to order a credit card to the big picture of why we have it, what money is, and who is in charge of it all.
5. Take on a small concrete project.
It’s all about one step at a time, right? The Bible study/ financial program that I went through has a fantastic road map to financial freedom which breaks things down into tasks small enough to accomplish. For someone who likes to avoid the issue, I need those small "wins" to help keep me going. So, I’ve picked a smallish task. There has been a weight hanging over my head for a while -- something my husband and I tried to do a decade ago for the sake of our kids and I just haven’t completed all the steps to make it happen. Before I get my financial focus in order, I'm just taking this smaller task on. When I have completed that, I'll move to the next challenge. Do you have something like that? Let's get them done!
What have you done to come out of your shell and deal with money matters? What helps have your found along the way? I’d love to hear!
About the Author
Carrie Soukup writes at GraceFinders.com, compelled by St. Therese, Brother Lawrence, and St. Ignatius to help others connect intimately with God in and through the craziness of life. She has served as a curriculum writer, campus minister, high school theology teacher and retreat director. On a great day, you can find her hiking or cycling with her husband and four children.