My husband and I make a combined income of $110,000 per year. That sounds like plenty, yet we struggle to pay our bills and often find ourselves running short of cash long before payday. We keep saying that, if we could just make more money, we could pay off our (admittedly heavy) debts. Are we kidding ourselves?
While some Register readers may be surprised to hear of someone having financial problems even though they earn a six-figure income, this situation is not uncommon at all. I recently received a phone call from a couple who described circumstances very similar to the one above. They too have an impressive income, yet find themselves more than $50,000 in debt, mostly to credit-card companies.
The husband described how they took their daughter on a cruise, putting the complete bill on a credit card. Many people search for happiness or comfort by spending money. The Catechism reminds us, “Our thirst for another’s goods is immense, infinite, never quenched” (No. 2536). The Catechism also reminds us: “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (No. 27).
In our weakened human state, we’re engaged in a lifelong struggle to keep our relationship with God first rather than trying to achieve happiness through material things. The above letter is a prime example of someone who has tried to find happiness through materialism — only to realize that true happiness can only be found in an intense relationship with God.
What’s the key to developing a Godly attitude toward money, one that enhances your relationship with the Lord? It’s in becoming a steward of God’s providence (No. 2404), where you recognize that all you have belongs to the Lord, and that he entrusts you to use these resources in ways that please him.
One woman who went through my “7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free” group study shared its impact on her and her husband as they began to understand the meaning of being a steward of God’s providence. “It’s helped define our values,” she said. “And from your values you make choices in life. I feel a much stronger sense of what my values are with my money. And that’s making those choices easier.”
I encourage you to faithfully fulfill your role as a “steward of providence.” If you’ve never kept a spending diary, I encourage you to do so for at least 30 days. You’ll probably be surprised at where your money is going. But, with that knowledge, you’ll be in a position to make adjustments that focus your spending on the things that really matter in the long run. God love you!
Phil Lenahan is president of
Veritas Financial Ministries