Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Tips on using the Traditions in family finances

How to make financial decisions in a couple:

(1) Agree that finances are to be managed prudently, without unnecessary debt or borrowing (Tradition VII) and with the generation of a prudent reserve (one year's operating expenses and provision for old age) (Concept XII).
(2) Agree that prudent financial management involves jointly agreeing budgets and sticking to them, rather than dealing with each cost or spending opportunity as it arises (Tradition II; proper business/group conscience meetings rather than deciding on important matters 'on the go'); each individual should pray that their thinking, words, and actions be guided by common welfare (Tradition I), not personal agenda.
(3) Agree what the 'common pot' of finances is: how much does each contribute to it? What does the 'common pot' cover? (Tradition VII)
(4) Agree any 'private' income of the individual over and above their contribution to the common pot is the business of that individual and no one else, as long as it does not affect another member of the family or the family as a whole (Tradition IV).
(5) Draw up a budget covering: fixed bills, variable bills, ongoing necessities, luxuries, savings, and pensions (Step XI: what is God's will for us?)
(6) Establish the spending threshold above which each person needs to agree the item with the other person (Concept III: each person can exercise discretion up to a certain level, but beyond that joint decisions are necessary).
(7) Establish a system for recording and monitoring costs so that they can be tracked against the budget, and establish that any costs above the budget must be agreed (Steps IV, V, VI, and VII: inventory, disclosure, examination of conscience, and change).

(8) Establish a schedule of meetings for when spending is analysed and budgets reset (Tradition II: like establishing a regular business meeting in a group).

Some other principles:
  • Unity comes above everything, so both must be willing to compromise without using this as a mechanism to force the other person to concede: this principle must be applied in good faith.
  • Reach all important decisions by discussion and (where there are only two people) unanimity; the matter is not settled until unanimity is achieved; neither has 'unqualified authority' over the other, so no pulling rank by spending without agreement.
  • 'Sufficient operating funds, plus an ample reserve, be its prudent financial principle.'

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