It’s the end of January. By now, you probably have the bills from Christmas. What is your reaction when you saw the statements? It could be everything from “worth every penny!!” to “what was I thinking??”
Most of us struggle with finances, and January brings this tension to the next level. I am not a financial advisor and quite honestly I continually struggle with family accounting! I often wonder where our household money goes. But thanks to this New Year’s resolution and dogged perseverance I am going to keep that budget updated this year… I hope.
Money is an issue in each household. It may have different looks and stress points in each family but we all live with trying to find the balance between living within our means and dreams.
Have you ever heard the saying “keeping up with the Jones”? I think this is partly the reason finances can be such a point of contention in our lives. We feel like we need to keep up with the materialistic standard that is set around us. The neighbor has a new car or bought a flat screen high-def TV and we feel we need to have the same. Friends booked a trip to the Caribbean and now we need to travel.
You know this is nothing new, right? King Solomon (the wisest man who ever lived) pointed it out a long time ago:
Ecclesiastes 4:4 Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.
The pressure to keep up with the Jones has been since the beginning of time. And often marriages and family relationships are sacrificed to neighborhood comparisons. The need to make money and pay the bills incurred by living outside our means, causes financial pressure and the need for longer works hours.
This is not what most of us want. I’m taking a clip out of our FamilyLife Real Marriage Magazine:
For most women, the emotional security of a close relationship with their husband is far more important than financial security. One survey showed that, if they were forced to choose between experiencing financial struggles or a lack of closeness in their relationship, 70% of married women would take the money problems.
Translation: Guys, your wife would rather have you at home whenever possible than have you work long hours to “provide better”. (for Men only by Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn p.77)
I have found this true in many relationships that I have seen. The husband thinks that he is ‘taking care of the family’ by working longer hours, trying to make more money but in reality the family would much rather have his time than the new toy. And often we get caught up in the lie that we are taking care of the family when in reality… we are just keeping up with the Jones. Success driven by envy – we want what the neighbor has.
So instead of a getting a second job or booking more hours to up the paycheck, take stock of what is important. What do you really want out of life? Good relationships within the family or a family that just looks good compared to the Jones. I’m thinking that close family ties and each other’s presence far outweigh any presents.
And really… who are the Jones? Good luck trying to catch the wind.
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