We Are Living Beyond Our Means. What Is Your Input on Our Financial Situation?
Question from a reader:
We are going into debt several thousand dollars a year because we are living on equity from our home and only my income. My husband doesn’t seem concerned about getting a job or the fact that we are living beyond our means. What is your input on our financial situation?
Answer from Randy Alcorn:
First, it is your husband’s job to provide financially for your family. If you choose together for him to work fewer hours so that you can work more and divide responsibilities with children and housework, this choice should be made carefully and frequently evaluated to see whether it is working.
If the burden for financial provision falls on the woman, typically she becomes the de facto head of the home, leading to resentment both in her and her husband. A man who isn’t the central provider for his family may like the decreased responsibility, but he will struggle with his role and his calling. If an able-bodied father isn’t working for a living the children are confused and embarrassed—and ultimately so are the adults. I have seen this happen, and it is something to be avoided. I would seriously discuss together the need for change, and develop a plan to implement it.
Secondly, debt is bondage and blindness, and the choice to live under debt (except in small manageable amounts, e.g. with a mortgage payment that is modest and reasonable) is ultimately degrading and deadening to the soul and to a marriage. It is simply unwise to live above your income. More marriages are damaged by financial issues than anything else. And more lives are disengaged from a walk with Christ through unwise decisions. The effects on children are adverse, in that the raised stress level of the home affects them too, not to mention the bad example of unwise choices.
On the debt issue and work and lifestyle and spending, you might consider obtaining or borrowing a copy of my book Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Below is one specific excerpt related to debt:
After warning against the dangers of indebtedness, several Christian books offer examples of cases when borrowing is appropriate. These exceptions include purchasing a house or a business, education, and even cars and furniture. Others make exceptions for so-called secured loans, those backed by collateral, such as a house or car, which could be returned if the debtor can’t pay. Typically, we will rationalize that our particular situation is one of these exceptional cases. But we should never go into debt unless there are compelling reasons. If we think our situation is an exception, we should seek out several wise counselors to see if they agree. (I emphasize “wise” to discourage you from seeking counsel from someone who believes that debt is normal.)
For more information on this subject, see Randy Alcorn's book Money, Possessions, and Eternity.