Generous Stewardship: Young parents, crunching the numbers with their eyes fixed on heaven
Christians aren’t called to be fake or pretend we have everything together when we don’t. We are called to be open with each other in suffering and in our walks towards Godliness. By sharing about our finances, we hope to equip each other to glorify God in every area of our lives.
We are speaking to people from all walks of life about how they think about finances. We aren't looking for the best models or the people who are the most put together. We are speaking to real people from every life stage about their personal struggles with money and how they think about bringing glory to God.
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Age | 29 and 28
Family | Married with three children under 6.
Work | Husband just started a part time teaching contract. Wife is on maternity leave.
Annual Income | This year looking to be $52,000 roughly, with casual teaching on top of it. It varies week to week. We also fall in the bracket of receiving the family tax benefit.
Housing | We live in a three bedroom house in the western suburbs that we rent for $275 a week, significantly below market rate.
How thought out are you about money | We often have trouble sticking to our budgets as we feel our expenses are higher than what we’ve budgeted for. During our time at uni, the gap between our income and expenses was so tight that it was hard to make much headway. We’re probably a 5 out of 10. Sometimes we write a budget and ask “can we increase our giving?”. But sometimes if we see someone in need we will just give without crunching the numbers. With some more money coming in, we have tried to be more deliberate in how we use it. We felt like we didn’t have much income at the start of 2018, but a big chunk of our debt was paid off.
The Heart of the Matter
How do you feel about being generous to God?
Our situation has changed this year, but our desire to be generous is the same. Generosity is still something we find hard. The temptation for us is to want to buy new furniture, or put as much money into savings. When we’re convicted about gospel ministry, our hearts are really moved and it’s easy to ask questions like “Can we give more?” Although, it was hard to keep this up towards the end of our studies, as we didn’t get much work over Christmas and our expenses increased.
As our children get older they become more expensive. We also had a big debt and regular payments were hard to keep up with. There were times where I would increase repayments without calculating whether we could afford it, which meant we struggled to give to our ministry commitments.
There were weeks last year we would be paid on a Thursday but then all the money would be gone by Saturday.
I remember feeling stressed about going to friends houses, because we wouldn’t have the petrol to get there. It was hard to think about increasing our giving during these times.
If we occasionally got a lump some of money, such as from Centrelink, we can say “let’s give a bit of that to something.” When we have money we find it easy to be generous, but when we don’t we can’t because there’s nothing there. I’ve never felt we couldn’t be hospitable without money, we still always felt we could have people over for dinner. There are other ways to be generous.
How do you choose what to do with your money?
We like to give the majority of our money to our church because I feel the members of our church are the most responsible for keeping our church going.
We start with the expenses we have to pay, rent, groceries, bills. We take the money left over and ask “What are we going to give?” That’s how we come to our starting number. One time [my husband] said, “We’re not even giving 10%” and I replied “you can’t squeeze water out of a rock.” We tried to be as generous as possible. As our situation changes, we ask if we can increase it.
We have a Compassion child also because we feel we should give to the needy and the poor. We can only afford one though. We also support some ministry workers. People ask us for money, so we work out if we can give it.
I feel comfortable to ask whether we can give more, because we’ve paid off our debt. This is the first time we will have money for our children’s music lessons before the bill comes in, so in that sense we feel better planned for our expenses now. We probably need to have another conversation about how we’re going to be more generous.
We feel relieved that we’re not always worrying about money at the moment. But we can feel guilty because we can think of times in our week when we’ve spent our money on frivolous things, like too many coffees (it’s not bad to have a treat though).
Don’t paint us as really good with our money because I fail a lot in this area. We constantly feel we need to be more generous and we need to often repent of the ways we’ve been greedy with our money.
Our generosity at the moment is manageable and not hurting, so that probably means we need to up it a bit. Are you being generous if you don’t miss the money? We should be foregoing something in order to be generous. Generosity should make us put our worldly desires second. The reason it hurts is because we can’t buy enough stuff for ourselves.
If we’re thinking about the gospel and what God thinks is important, then that shouldn’t be the stuff we want to spend our money on anyway.