Many people think that financial counseling is just for people who have an obvious financial problem, but this is not true. Financial counseling is likely to benefit anyone who earnestly desires assistance with improving their skills in managing their personal or family financial affairs.
Just because a person is not aware that they have a financial problem does not mean that they do not actually have such a problem, just as a person who has a serious illness may not be aware of that illness until they have been examined by a doctor. Even a person who has been blessed with an abundance of money may not be managing their financial affairs wisely.
Most people probably would prefer to manage their financial affairs themselves, rather than seeking assistance. However, they probably will make significant mistakes – perhaps, even major mistakes – until they are willing to receive guidance from financial counselors who can provide helpful insights about financial matters.
The Bible states in Proverbs 12:15b, “He who heeds counsel is wise,” and Proverbs 19:20a instructs, “Listen to counsel and receive instruction. . . .”
If you have a serious financial problem, it is especially important for you to get counseling as soon as possible. Do not wait to get counseling help until it is too late for your financial problem to be dealt with without you and your family having to suffer severe consequences.
Some people may not realize that they have a serious financial problem. The following are warning signs that indicate you may have a serious financial problem, especially if several of these warning signs apply to you:
- You frequently worry about or feel discouraged about your financial situation
- You and your spouse frequently argue about money matters (see Appendix below)
- You are unsure or anxious about whether or not you are saving enough money
- You are unable to save regularly
- You are hoarding rather than saving for specific purposes
- You often use your savings for purposes other than those for which those savings were intended
- You are dependent on credit to maintain your standard of living
- The total balance of your loans and credit card accounts stays large or grows even larger
- You frequently have difficulty paying one or more of your bills on time
- You find it necessary to consolidate or extend your loans
- You pay only the minimum amount due on your credit card accounts, because you cannot afford to pay more
- You often rely on your checking account’s overdraft protection to help pay your bills
- You are dependent on overtime wages to help pay for your regular living expenses
- You frequently attempt to cheer up yourself by making purchases that you really cannot afford
Although financial counseling cannot guaranty that a person’s financial problem(s) will be resolved to their complete satisfaction, the following are among the potential benefits:
- Assistance in dealing with your immediate personal or family financial issues
- Guidance in planning for your long-term personal or family financial needs
- Encouragement to be a good steward of all the financial resources that God has entrusted to you, no matter how small or how large your financial resources are
- Improvement in your peace of mind regarding your ability to wisely manage your financial affairs
- Increased harmony within your home, as a result of confidence that your family’s financial resources are being handled fairly and prudently
Even if you do not think you and your family could benefit from financial counseling, you may know someone else who could benefit. If you know of such a person, share this information with them and encourage them to get financial counseling as soon as possible.
The following excerpts are from a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Money Matters Can Make or Break a Marriage” (4-12-09) by Jeff Opdyke. The excerpts provide potentially helpful perspectives for a married couple whose ideas about money matters differ considerably.
Too many people know too little about budgeting, saving, investing and spending wisely – the basics of family finance. And when it comes to marriage, that’s where problems arise.
[I]f neither of you – or only one of you – really understands the dollars and cents of daily life, you’re likely to spend your relationship continually insecure financially, or frustrated with each other, maybe even routinely fighting.
Here’s how you deal with it: Seek help.
If you have money skills but your partner doesn’t, you’re probably convinced your partner would learn so much from listening to you. But here’s what your partner is thinking when you start talking money: “Please shut up . . . it’s only money . . . why do you always harp on me about money . . . I don’t care about money . . . just leave me alone. . . .”
And, if you’re the person who doesn’t care about your family’s financial minutiae, you’re probably convinced the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with is just unnaturally preoccupied with money.
But here’s what your partner is thinking: “Don’t you see that you’re ruining us because you continue doing the same stupid things . . . our life could be so much better and secure . . . money is important to our future together!”
What you need is a neutral person, such as a financial planner or financial counselor. A pro will help . . . get you both working toward common goals. Planners or counselors can help you fashion a budget that takes into account each partner’s financial needs. . . .