There is much about the economic context in which our families live and work that we cannot control, but there are others which we can and should take in hand.

Doing so can bring our family into financial health and bring unity in an area where many marriages struggle to find agreement on basic practices.

Here are a few lessons we've learned, principles we've taught our children and suggestions which you may find valuable.... in PowerPoint or PDF

Moerman 'Kids' in 2008

Murray and Carol's adult 'kids' in 2008

(for whom most of the material below has been developed)


Three Enemies: In family finances we all have three enemies to overcome - our own desires, taxes, and banks. As such it's helpful to distinguish clearly between what we can and can't control and then to focus where our efforts will make the most difference...


What we Can't do as much to control:

  • Taxes - enough said :-).

  • Public debt - is the primary cause of elevated taxes because the interest on public debt must be paid to private banks. Politicians in democracies generally make promises to get elected, go into public debt to fulfil some of the promises and raise taxes to pay the interest on the debt accumulated. Just as at the personal level, this illusion of success only works for a while. And the cost is high, think Europe.

  • Banks - are motivated by gain and governments by political expediency. Long term planning by international central banks have overcome short-term expediency of governments. For this reason private banks control most governments and determine economic depressions and even which governments have money for which wars. To understand how this struggle has shaped history and what it means for the future I strongly urge you to download and view "The Money Masters" video (WMV format), or listen (MP3 format).

What we Can take steps to control:

John Wesley once identified some of the elements we can control clearly and simply: "Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can." (more) These involve:

  1. Personal discipline - this area is of course the hardest and affects all the rest. Discipline involves seeing and setting the goal clearly and keeping it in focus. Remember, the entire advertising world is designed with only one purpose: to break your resolve. There will always be someone to tell you you will be happier if you buy their product or 'upgrade' when there is nothing wrong with what you have.

  2. Budget - the willingness to live within a budget is the primary test of personal discipline. There are three keys to an effective budget producing long-term financial health:

    1. Start with 70%: Write down the figure that reflects 70% of your monthly income

    2. Limit your expenditures to that figure including the basic categories of housing, food, clothes, transportation. You may initially have to eliminate the categories of entertainment, eating out etc. You may need to buy bulk food (not small packages), grow some of your food, visit 'thrift shops" to buy used clothes or mend the clothes you have etc. Additional practical suggestions here.

    3. Invest the remaining 30% in three areas:

      • Tithing or Giving - never give less than 10% to the work of God's Kingdom. As God provides greater means, give more. Include your local church, missions, relief and development.

      • Short-term savings or debt reduction - save 10% to be ready for short-term (under 5 years) surprises e.g. the unexpected kitchen appliance or car repair. Life is full of surprises. Be ready. The key to doing this is getting and staying out of debt. ("The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender." - Proverbs 22:7) If you are in debt, commit 10% of your income to debt reduction until you are free. Then commit 10% to short-term savings.

      • Long-term savings - save 10% towards longer-term (over 5 years) goals e.g. retirement, your children's education, investments etc. (Remember the power of compound interest: personal discipline + regular saving + compound interest = financial health and ability to help others.)

      Charles Dickens put it better than anyone else when he had Mr. Micawber say, in Nicholas Nicholby: "Annual income one pound, annual expenditure nineteen shillings and sixpence; result happiness. Annual income one pound, annual expenditure one pound and sixpence; result misery". (Quoted in Stress and Money Management)

    4. Develop a simple money management plan to ensure your budget plan works. Once we have developed an plan and learned to discipline our desires, we get in trouble most often by loosing track of how we are spending our money. Let me suggest:

    • A Discovery Process: If you don't know how you are spending your money (and especially before developing your first budget), keep a notepad and jot down everything you buy for one month. Then put your expenses into categories. Then identify things you'd like to change next month. If you're comfortable with a site like this process becomes very easy.

    • Cash Envelopes: Work with cash as as long as cash remains in circulation. Take several envelopes and write one main budget category on each envelope. Place the amount of money to be spent that month in that budget category into the envelope. Stop spending when the envelope is empty until month-end when you replenish it. It takes discipline but works very effectively.

    • Debit-card: If you cannot work with cash, use a debit card rather than credit card.

    • Pay off credit-card every month, even weekly: If you cannot work with a debit card, use a credit card but transfer on-line at the end of the day anything spent that day to pay off your credit card so there is never a negative balance.