With three kids in college, our family is learning how to live on a budget again. It’s not easy, but it isn’t the first time finances have been tight at our house.
Most stepfamilies will encounter periods of financial distress. The complexity of: overcoming loss of income from divorce, dispersing child support payments, learning to manage money together with several children, and coping with increasing expenses as the family grows all contribute to a financial burden for a stepfamily.
So, how do you cope with the stress of too many expenses and not enough money to go around?
For my husband and I, the first thing we do is ask the Lord for wisdom. Are we being good stewards of our money, are we abiding by a budget that allows us to see where our money is being spent, do we have a reasonable plan in place to pay off our debt?
And as we look at our finances together, it’s important that my husband and I are on the same page. It may be necessary to take intentional steps toward reducing our expenses and we must be able to come to an agreement on how to do so.
If one spouse is a shopper and the other is a hoarder, there will be some difficult conversation regarding how money will be spent. But it’s necessary to confront the issue and resolve it before it creates a major problem in the marriage.
It’s also important to hold our children accountable for their part of the financial equation. When money is tight, children can be taught to lower their expectations of a designer-clad wardrobe or the ongoing purchase of the latest technology gadget. And as they get older, they can be expected to maintain a job and contribute toward the expenses of owning a car, securing auto insurance, and other extra-curricular expenses incurred during the teenage years.
It’s also helpful to have a pool of money for reserve when your family hits a difficult financial period.When my husband lost his job earlier this year, we weren’t prepared for a financial emergency. But the likelihood of job loss is very real in today’s economy and cannot be ignored.
We are living in difficult economic times. But despite sobering statistics, we can trust God’s promises to carry us through the peaks and the valleys. Our family has experienced His provision firsthand this year.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Do you have other suggestions for successfully managing your stepfamily’s finances?