August 04, 2013

MinistryCPA Special Topic: Family Finances Resource

Russ Crosson’s book, Eight Important Money Decisions for Every Couple (Harvest House Publishers, 2012), gets our strong recommendation as an extremely practical aid to couples wanting to better communicate about their family finances. We especially appreciate his thorough consideration of Biblical truths about marriage, husband and wife roles, and God-honoring communication.

We have referenced other family financial resources in this blog, including those by Crosson’s colleague, Ron Blue (Books for Financially Troubled Christians). Crosson’s book is not quite as “in-your-face” as Dave Ramsey’s, Total Money Makeover (not without its merits), but Eight Important Money Decisions for Every Couple offers comprehensive instruction into the root cause of financial disharmony—a lack of discerning communication.

Before Crosson initiates development of his eight money decisions in chapter five, he explores the purpose of money, the purpose of marriage, reasons for marriage conflict, and the value of work. Some readers may become impatient with this rather long introductory section, but will see its value as the eight decisions are addressed. 

Woven throughout the entire book is a conversation between a hypothetical couple, Rob and Sarah, which paints a tangible picture of the different perspectives that husbands and wives bring to the table when discussing finances. Wives (and husbands) will find Julie Crosson’s (Russ’s wife) final chapter a balanced and thought-provoking examination of a wife’s role in family finances.

Eight Important Money Decisions for Every Couple is ideal for targeted audiences of pastors seeking pre-marital counseling materials, newlyweds hit with the realities of coming to “one mind” after their independent singleness, and married couples of all ages wanting to improve their stewardship of money.

The Eight Decisions (and our brief comments):
1.   How much should we work? (Don’t complain about never seeing one another if you cannot learn to live on the income of a normal work week.)
2.   Should mom work outside the home? (This chapter has produced great discussions among and between couples in Bible studies we’ve led.)
3.   Who pays the bills? (Examine the extremes of controlling versus apathetic husbands; then find your own balanced approach.)
4.   How do we set budget amounts? (Practical guidelines for creating a workable budget. Crosson: "You're only on a budget system if, at any point in time, you can answer this question: How much do you have left to spend on [name a specific expense]." (p. 123"))
5.   How much debt should we allow? (Communications that most married couples will wish they had had before their wedding day.)
6.   How do we decide which investments to make? (Good perspective: “A person doesn’t become wealthy from investments. He gets wealthy by spending less than he makes from his vocation over a long period of time and preserving that surplus through investments” (p. 157).)
7.   How much should we give? (Crosson: “Julie and I have found that it’s critical to communicate in this area just as we do about investments” (p. 169).)
8.   What is our strategy for discussing money? (The thoroughly biblical counsel of this chapter works for a lot more than just talks about money.)  

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