grace-filled budgeting

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I’ve heard a lot lately about how certain financial advisors, specifically Christian financial advisors, ok, specifically Dave Ramsey, can enslave people with fear and guilt and legalism rather than free them through hope and encouragement.

I totally get it.

I get that it can be put on a pedestal and preached as doctrine or the way. I get that a strict budget can feel like legalism and making mistakes can feel like “sin”. I get how hearing that someone has begun following Dave Ramsey’s financial philosophies could make the hearer feel less than. I especially see the potential for danger in the tie between Christian faith and any set of financial principles.

Here’s the thing: Something is only of God to the extent that it leads to Freedom and Love.

I’m not talking about the pseudo-freedom of mindlessly swiping a piece of plastic and worrying about it later. I’m talking about the freedom that comes when later arrives and there is no feeling of guilt or regret.

I’m not talking about that brief, fleeting love felt in the dressing room at Anthropologie. I’ talking about Deep, Eternal, Calvary love.

For DanO and I, Total Money Makeover has lead to freedom in our marriage. We have a budget and we tell our money where to go instead of wondering where it went. There is freedom knowing that decisions are out in the open and are dictated by a mutually agreed upon plan. There is freedom in using cash and handling the transaction when it occurs, not getting the statement later.

For DanO and I, Total Money Makeover has lead to love in our family. I have a theory supported by intermittent surveys of married friends: DanO and I are more passionate arguers than your average married couple. True story. And of those arguments, money ones are the worst. I can honestly and candidly tell you that since getting on the same page with finances, there is so much less on which to disagree. It’s a pretty clear equation that less disagreement and arguing equals more love.

But what if it didn’t? What if we felt burdened and defeated as a result of this financial paradigm? What if there was no grace for mistakes or for exceptions? What if we weren’t both on board and it became a point of even further dispute?

Then it wouldn’t be right for us to ascribe to it. Remember? Something is only of God to the extent that it leads to Freedom and Love. Friends, don’t let it enslave you or shame you. Not even the trendiest, best-sellingest, soundest advice is worth trading a light yoke and a full heart.


9 Responses to “grace-filled budgeting”

  1. Molly

    As a Dave Ramsey FPU student I really feel you on this post. We were doing so well with the debt snowball and then I unexpectedly lost my job :(

    Now I feel guilty all the time that I’m the reason we cant continue the program right now. I am fearful that the debt will begin to mount up again. I’m really living a different way in my mind now though so what I try to think is that God set us on a debt reduction path to prepare us for this valley.

    • AllisonO

      That’s a great way to look at it. Maybe it wasn’t as much about completely staying true to the plan presented in FPU as it was about shifting your thinking. Grace, grace, grace.

  2. Amanda

    Thank you for this, my dear. I’ve been wanting to keep better track of our money for just those reasons! I don’t want to feel like the money is controlling our family. I was just talking to Kyle about how I admire you two for sticking to a budget and achieving your goals – you are an inspiration! :)

  3. Jessie

    My husband and I are also doing Dave’s plan (5 months until debt freedom). The plan works for us but in talking with many of my friends I realize that it may not be te best plan for them. This does not make me righteous and them sinners. We all find out own path as couples and as Christians to peace. Well said.

  4. Christa

    My husband and I have felt like this is becoming a cult and a worship of “Uncle Dave”. It kind of worries us. We grew up in very financially responsible homes and if anything, have had to learn, or at least me, to spend and not worry about every dollar. Life is here for us to enjoy it and be gracioius to others. We love to serve great food and wine when entertaining and treat our nieces and nephews to experiences that may not always be “cheap”. I agree with the grace needed and having been laid off for more than two years it is interesting about budgets and money. It probably helps that I love to shop consignment and Saver’s! I am not extravagant with my purchases and clearance, coupon and consignment are words that make me happy! I am glad for your generation, that appears to not have had some of the saving and spending lessons that we of depression era parents instilled in us, get the help needed to be responsible with one’s budget and yes, money is what couples fight about. I say that is because it is easier to find sex elsewhere than money. Sad but too often true. Thank you for such an honest post and for having the courage and discipline to budget and work hard to reach this mutual goal. You are an inspiring couple and beautiful family.

  5. Sarah Ann Noel

    I just found your blog and what a fabulous post to stumble upon. I love your take on financial responsibility as Christians and how your focus is on the freedom and grace we receive through Christ. Why is it so easy to forget about something so wonderful?!

    Thanks so much for sharing. Can’t wait to keep reading!


    the Reverie blog


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