Dad, do you want to improve your financial future and that of your family? Here are several steps you can take to bring financial peace and contentment to your household. Most of these relate to what I call “soft” issues, but they are even more important than financial techniques. Get them right, and solid financial plans will follow.
The first — and most important — step is to develop a strong relationship with the Lord. The extent to which husbands and fathers fulfill their spiritual role in the family has numerous cascading effects. One of these will be how well money is managed in the home. Because your faith influences your priorities and guides you toward a virtuous life, growing in it will be a key to making sound financial decisions.
The second step? Love your spouse well. According to Money Magazine, 84 percent of couples say money causes tension in their marriages, with most disagreements relating to differences in priorities. That’s a shame, and it need not be. There can be no financial peace in the home if there isn’t financial peace between spouses. When it comes to money, loving your spouse means building on the unity our Lord desires in your marriage (Gn 2:24). Develop a unified financial plan, communicate openly — and honestly — as the plan unfolds, and make adjustments as needed along the way.
Take your responsibilities as a provider seriously, being diligent in your work while maintaining a healthy balance for both spiritual development and family time.
Another key to financial peace relates to children, both while they are in the home and after they leave as adults. My wife, Chelsey, has shared a saying that parents are only as happy as their saddest child. So your third step is to make sure to pass on the Faith to your children.
While our primary reason for living the Faith and passing it on is eternal life with God, it also provides a road map for life. Just as it provides you with a foundation for daily living — including your finances — so it should for your children. Before your children leave home, make sure you have taught them how to manage their money according to godly principles — most importantly, by example.
What’s the key to successfully passing on your Faith? A Swiss study has shown that if father and mother regularly attend church, the probability of their children regularly attending as adults increase by tenfold! Fathers, the role you play in the development of your children’s faith is critical. Consider the words of the prophet Malachi: “He will turn the heart of fathers to their sons and the heart of sons to their fathers” (Mal 3:24).
In addition to the “soft” issues, you need to do the basic blocking and tackling of financial planning. You’ll want to create a solid annual cash flow plan that reflects godly priorities: a generous spirit; the formation and education of children; avoidance of unproductive debt; saving for rainy day and other reserve funds; and the creation of wealth with a purpose.
Being a steward of Providence means you are called to fulfill both the “soft” and technical issues related to money management well. Look to St. Joseph as an example worth emulating. St. Joseph, pray for us. God love you!
Phil Lenahan is president of Veritas Financial Ministries (www.VeritasFinancialMinistries.com) and author of “7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free” (OSV, $19.95). Submit questions for columns to firstname.lastname@example.org.