A difficult case of a marital tsunami that was about to destroy a home with six children was recently sent my way. Among other problems, the couple suffers from severe financial difficulties.
During the course of my initial peacemaking session with them, I discovered that neither husband nor wife lives on a budget or knows how to plan one. They also have this false type of emuna that says, “Hashem will provide,” while they spend money indiscriminately on frills and needless items. That’s really unfortunate, especially in light of the fact that the husband and wife are quite compatible. If Hashem put them under the chuppa together, then they are surely soulmates. So why be miserable when a few basic pointers can help them be happy?
Once they learn how to deal with their personal finances and the root causes of their difficulties, with Hashem’s help, they’ll undoubtedly bring harmony back to their home.
The Talmud is well aware of the havoc that money problems create in a marital relationship. Our sages said that "Whenever a woman lacks wheat in her silo, she immediately screams". No wife enjoys looking at bare cupboards.
Having drawn up a practical financial rehabilitation program for the couple at hand that also addresses the spiritual root of money problems, I decided to share it with our readers as well.
Here is a program of fourteen important pointers for avoiding financial trouble. The closer you stick to them, the more peacefully you'll sleep at night:
1. Sit down with your spouse over a cup of tea or coffee, and make a list of all your monthly income and expenses.
2. Arrange your expenses in order of priority, highest to lowest.
3. If your expenses exceed the income, start deleting the lowest priority expenses until you balance the budget.
4. Don't use charge cards and don't buy on credit. Rav Shalom Arush warns us against falling into debt. Also, credit purchases are questionable according to religious law, because of interest payments. Especially at the grocery store or supermarket, pay cash and avoid impulse buying.
5. Look at all the junk you've accumulated over the years, and think about how many things you purchased on a whim, that really add nothing to your life. Sell or get rid of whatever you don’t need in the service of Hashem (making a living in order to raise an upright family is certainly the service of Hashem).
6. Remember that The Almighty gives you everything you need in life; But, He does not provide you with a stipend for "keeping up with the Jones". Spiritually, debt stems from things you don't really need.
7. Our sages teach that "Happy is the person who is satisfied with what he/she has". Don't expect material possessions to satiate spiritual or emotional hunger.
8. Try walking and using public transportation. Try getting rid of the extra car, you'll save time, money, and improve your health. If you live in the city, you probably don't need a car at all.
9. Don't save on child education – the Talmud promises that you'll be refunded to the last cent.
10. Give at least 10% of your net income to charity. The Almighty is more than happy to give you $100,000 when He knows that you'll give $10,000 to charity.
11. Cutting out whiskey, wine, beer and cigarettes will save you hundreds of dollars a month, and improve your health.
12. Teach your children to perform household and garden chores; let them earn their spending money. It's great for their education and saves on domestic help. Unspoiled kids are less likely to fall into financial trouble when they grow up.
13. Husbands – honor and respect your wives! This will make you rich. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that the illumination of a wife’s soul is a fantastic spiritual vessel for abundance.
14. Never lose your temper. Anger causes financial difficulties. Rebbe Nachman teaches that oftentimes when a person is about to receive riches, he or she is tested with anger. If they pass the test and don’t lose their temper, they are rewarded with a gift of abundance from Above.
Fourteen tips – the gematria (numerical equivalent) of 14 is יד, which is the Hebrew word for hand. King David says that Hashem opens His hand, and sustains every living thing. That includes us and our loved ones, amen.