Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Mission of Money and the Single-Income Marriage

By Katie Sciba
The Catholic Wife
“Who can find a good wife? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm” (Proverbs 31:10-12a).

Back in August I dug up my old Dave Ramsey CDs for some monetary motivation; and immediately Andrew and I got back on the horse to ride furiously into the sunset of Financial Peace (because frankly, I’m terrified of not having Financial Peace).

We’re a single income family and in the beginning, Andrew and I agreed that I would handle the finances. Though of course he’s privy to our cash flow, it’s my job to make sure the outgo doesn’t exceed the income. Since our financial revival a couple months ago, I’ve made a habit of combing our budget in search of error and excess to ensure that we have complete control over our finances, intentionally placing each penny prudently. Coupons, SALES, switching to reliable-yet-inexpensive Ting for our cell service, coffee at home vs. Fivebucks; every little bit helps and any new approach we find to help us save more and spend less becomes Sciba Family Dogma: we cling to it stubbornly, knowing the discipline will help our family. (In case you think we live like shoeless hermits, I want you to know that we still LIVE, have fun, and purchase things we want.)

Friday night I burst through our front door beaming from a big grocery trip. I giddily reported to Andrew that after coupons and discounts, I managed to save us $16 at the check out, not including the dollars saved from buying only on-sale items. Others might save much more on a regular basis, but I was pretty proud of myself since the whole coupon/smart-shopping idea used to intimidate me.

In my chatty glow, it occurred to me that I waxed so merrily about my savings because I wanted Andrew to know that I was being a good steward of his income – a wife who doesn’t take advantage, but has learned to deeply appreciate his work and reaping.


A sudden, simple, spiritual/financial/revival AHA! struck me at that very moment: It is Andrew’s task as the breadwinner to provide financially for our family; it is my corresponding duty to reveal to him, through good stewardship of his income, that what he brings in is enough. Generally speaking, men want to provide; it’s a natural charism that when under fire, can cause self-doubt and anxiety. If it seems like there’s not enough cash, then it’s easy (and common) for a provider to doubt his worth because if he’s doing his best, working hard, and coming up short, discouragement follows; BUT, I can stave off that discouragement by being a good steward of our finances, by living simply, making prudent financial choices and communicating about expenses and needs. And the plus is that I can build Andrew up in good, honest confidence because he’ll trust that I treasure him as well as his work for me and our boys.

I want so so so much to be the Proverbs 31 type for my husband. And why not? I’m crazy about him! With our combined duties of providing and stewardship, we feel safe with each other and hopeful in our relational security. The whole thing is a team-building effort that applies not just to single-income marriages or he works/she’s at home situations; the point is that putting a little financial prudence into practice has a way of letting your provider know you appreciate what he does.

Image by Finance Fox.

Originally from Newport News, Virginia and grown in the burbs of Omaha, Nebraska, Katie Sciba is a housewife and mother, award-winning columnist for the Catholic Connectionand editor for the blog Truth & Charity.  She won a third-place award from Catholic Press Association for Best Regular Column on Family Life in 2013, and her blog has been featured on National Catholic RegisterNew AdventSpirit Daily, and Big PulpitA 2008 Benedictine College grad, she lives with her husband, Andrew, and three sons. She admires St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who was renowned not only by her compassion for the poor, but also by her deep love for her husband. She blogs at The Catholic Wife, where this post originally appeared.

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