God commands it, and your future wife will love you for it. Are you up for the challenge of being the primary financial provider for your family?
What kind of man does God want me to be?
It's a question that single guys are — and should — be asking themselves. Maybe you're asking it of yourself.
Perhaps you've come up with some answers — spiritual maturity, serving others, walking the walk or sharing His Word — most of which run absolutely counter to what our culture promotes.
But have you asked yourself about the man that God wants you not just to be right now, but the man that God wants you to become? Though it may seem an eternity away, within 10 years most college grad bachelors will be entering marriage and possibly even becoming fathers. Is there something you should be doing now to prepare for that time?
There's no doubt that developing spiritual maturity, serving others and the rest will honor God and benefit you whether bachelor or father. But there is something else. Something so counter-culture that many, including many in the church, don't even remember it as a life option anymore.
It's this: to be the primary financial provider for your family.
In 1 Timothy 5, Paul writes: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." Strong words. But even if Scripture commands it, wouldn't a modern woman be insulted by the idea of her husband as the primary bread winner?
According to the current crop of mommies, the answer is a resounding "No!" A full 84 percent of mothers agree that working full time outside the home is not the ideal situation. Some want to raise their children full time. Others want to work part time or work from home. But all agree that they want to spend more time raising their children.
As God understood women's hearts in Paul's day, He understands them still today. Most women, even if only for a few years, want to put financial gain aside and work on something eternal — their kids.
You can follow God's command and make that happen, even starting now in your single years. But how?
It starts with the basics. You've probably heard much of the expert advice before: Be cautious about student loans, stay out of credit card debt, be careful of your big purchases (cars and houses) and be especially careful, as a guy, of the temptation to buy toys.
But there are other very specific things you can do as a single man to be ready for a future wife and children.
Get a plan. First, says Dave Ramsey in his book Financial Peace Revisited, get a plan and write it down. As a single man, what are your financial priorities?
Do you want your future wife to have the opportunity to raise your children full time? Then write it down. Do you want to save toward a "My Future Family Fund"? Or pay down student loans?
"You are free to do what you want," Ramsey writes. "Just do it on purpose... [Y]ou have to have self-accountability, and that comes from telling yourself what to do on paper, then asking yourself, 'Self, are you behaving in order to accomplish your goals?'" Without a plan, it's just too easy to give into the impulse buys.
"Remember to budget in the fun stuff too," Ramsey continues. "I'm not trying to destroy the fun you are having, but being broke because you don't have a game plan is not fun."
Get a mentor. In short, older men have been there, done that. They've lived through the bachelor years and beyond. They can give you the big picture — especially with finances.
"Seriously," writes Ramsey. "Find someone with a little gray who has proven to be wise with money." It could be a parent, a pastor or a trusted family friend. But the key is that they be wise. A Rolls Royce and vacation home don't necessarily show someone is financially wise, just that they know how to spend.
How do you know if a possible mentor is financially wise? There's no surefire way, but try answering two questions:
- Does he tithe?
- Is he stressed by his finances?
The first question tells you if he's putting God first in his finances. If not, it's questionable if he can point you on the godly path to yours. The second question shows his track record. A man who moans, "Oh, man, it seems like there's never enough money!" might need to be reconsidered. But one who answers "That's smart of you, Mike. I wish I would have started planning when I was your age. But, thankfully, following God's financial principles has led to where my finances are no longer an issue" could be a winner.
Sit down over lunch and talk with him. Show him your list of priorities. Give him permission to hold you accountable, Ramsey advises, and check with him before making large purchases.
Get a roommate. This advice isn't from Dave Ramsey, but from Lance, a thirtysomething and new dad of Eli, whose wife has just started staying home.
Lance remembers what he was like as a recent college grad. "All of a sudden you've got this paycheck and you realize, hey, I don't have the clothes I need for this job or the car I need for this job or the whatever," he says. "But you've got to be careful about the temptation to spend."
Rather than looking to jump into a home or a two-bedroom condo with a view, "Why not get a roommate?" Lance asks. "You've probably been living with one for the last four or five years, what's the harm?"
Not only will having a roommate help decrease your biggest monthly expense — housing — it can also serve as a powerful symbol. Rather than using your new financial freedom to give yourself a "lifestyle," use this time to give yourself financial freedom for the rest of your life.
The same goes for the rest of your spending, Lance says. Don't buy just because you can. Buy because you should.
Get committed. Christian experts agree on it and most of my friends lament that they didn't do it: Live on one income once you are married.
Make the commitment that, once you are married, you will use your income and your income only to pay the expenses, including your mortgage. Then allocate your wife's income towards aggressively paying off any debt, saving and investing. You may not keep up with the neighbors, but you'll have what they don't: decreasing debt, increasing savings, future choices and peace.
Take, for example, the couple we know who recently bought a new home. It was a beaut, with granite and gadgets to spare. But as Mr. House, who has no children yet, confessed, "We know that she'll never be able to stop working, but we've decided it's worth it."
This couple has committed themselves to day care. They've got the granite and the gadgets, but they don't have options.
Unfortunately, this is a mistake that Kerwin, a just- turned-30 without children yet, has seen a lot of young couples make. "They want the instant gratification," he says. "They want the house their parents have and the nice cars that their parents have, but forget about the 25 years their parents spent working to accumulate those things."
Kerwin and Mr. House couldn't be more different. Where House has signed the 30-year contract for his wife to work, Kerwin and his wife have been diligently saving her income so that she has the option to raise their future children full time.
"Be patient and prudent with finances and those things will come with time," Kerwin says, "and without the stress and heartache trying to get them now brings."
Get excited. Finally, says Lance, get excited. There is nothing to fear or dread about being a provider for your family.
"It energizes me," Lance admits. "Yeah, there's some pressure, but I get such a feeling of accomplishment in providing for my family. I feel like it's something God placed in me. I know that no one can love Eli and take as good a care of him as my wife, Tara. And I'm jazzed to be able to make that happen."
Copyright © 2006 Heather D. Koerner. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.