Living On Less Doesn’t Equal Living Less

Do you struggle with finances in your marriage? Does it seem like things would be better if you just had a bit more? Do you wish you could give your kids better "stuff"? Come and find out how we discovered that living on less doesn't always equal "living less".....A recent Money Magazine article about money and couples highlights what most couples, especially those with kids, already know: married couples fight a lot about finances. According to the statistics, “70 percent of married couples argue about money—ahead of fights about household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring, and what’s for dinner.”

What we found interesting is that couples whose kids were over age eighteen experienced less conflict over finances than couples with children who were younger than eighteen. The article reports that 80 percent of couples with children younger than eighteen argue over money, while 64 percent of couples with children over eighteen indicate money as a source of conflict. For most couples, having kids in the house throws gasoline on the financial fires.

Fortunately, we’re not left to figure it all out on our own. God’s reign and rule in our lives extends to our finances, and Jesus was not shy when it came to talking about money. It’s impossible to separate faith, finances, and family. Throughout the Bible we are encouraged to have a life perspective that keeps our financial priorities in the right order.

In Luke 12, Jesus finds himself in the middle of a family feud. Apparently, two brothers were in a dispute over their inheritance. Jesus uses the situation as an opportunity to teach that life is about far more than money. He says to them,

“Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:14–15)

Money isn’t everything. “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Living on less doesn’t equal living less.

Keeping this perspective about money is critical if we are going to live in financial unity as a couple, especially when we have kids in the house. This was not easy for us to learn. Not only were our finances out of order because of the things we acquired unwisely, but we were shocked by what happened to our stuff once we had kids in the house.

No matter how hard you try to steward your stuff, kids are hard on it. We’ve had car doors nicked by scooters, couches seasoned with Gatorade, bikes left out in the rain, and shoes left out and eaten by the dog. And we won’t even tell you how many times we had to replace the once perfect, but hopelessly stained, pale gray rug Ruth found for our dining room. Just repairing damage sucks money into a giant black hole.

For a long time we struggled with this. The mistake we made was to think that having more meant living more. Somehow we thought that we would be happier, more satisfied if we had more of the things we wanted. Sure, it’s nice to have a little extra in savings, it’s nice to have some of the things we want and enjoy, and it’s nice to eat out more than once a month. But these things don’t bring life to living.

Finally, we realized that life is about far more than stuff. No amount of money or possessions could compare to the moments we have had to enjoy life with our kids:

  • Staying up late to practice soccer drills
  • Relaxing in bed talking and laughing
  • Reading one more book to the kids
    • Movie night
  • Pizza and popcorn for dinner

These are the moments our kids will remember the most. It’s our relationship, the moments together—not the money or stuff—that counts.

When we started to put our financial life in its proper place, it took much of the fight and stress out of our marriage. We discovered that living on less is not the same as living less.


Patrick Schwenk

For Better or For Kids - Is there sex after kids?This post is an excerpt from our newest book, For Better or For Kids. FBOFK is a book packed full of our personal stories of marriage and parenting over the last 18 years, practical help and biblical wisdom that will enable you to have a loving and intimate marriage regardless of the season of life you find yourself in. Grab your copy today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook or anywhere books are sold.

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