These are challenging financial times for widows. The 2020 banking letter from the Federal Reserve of Chicago noted that that the average household income three years before a spouse dies is $75,000. Three years after a husband’s death, the widow’s income is reduced to $47,000. Some would say that the widow should do well because she is only responsible for one person now. However, the mortgage and car payments remain the same; utility bills usually increase every few years, and the widow now must hire a handyman to do home upkeep chores that the husband used to do.
How was it possible that a bank with a 40-year reputation of supporting upstart businesses and the tech industry collapsed in one day? But the bank closed on March 10. Many people touted the Silicon Valley Bank as “the” bank to go to for investment, financial help, and security. Yet, when large depositors began withdrawing cash, SVB simply ran out of money. The bank took a $1.8 billion loss when, of necessity, it sold $21 billion worth of bonds. One financial expert said 190 other banks may be on the brink of failing.
On May 1, another bank – First Republic Bank – was taken over by regulators and much of its holdings were bought by another large company. It was said that mass withdrawals led to this collapse. How is this possible? The bank officials should have taken precautions to prevent the disaster.
Jesus had much to say about money. He talked more about money and personal finances than He did about heaven and hell. He often used money in His parables to teach biblical principles. Here are a few fundamental truths Jesus taught about money.
- We should not let money rule our lives. Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
- Giving that God honors is done so that only God gets the glory. Matthew 6:2-4. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets to be honored by men. … But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
- In the parable of the Sower and the Seed, Jesus said that some seed, which is the Word of God, is sown among thorns. This is the person “who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful,” (Matthew 13:22). When Jesus had a conversation with the Rich Young Man in Matthew 19:16-26), He said, it’s difficult for a person who trust in his riches to enter the kingdom of heaven (v. 23).
- Investing in what pleases God or what God considers important brings heavenly rewards. “Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near, and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Luke 12:33-34).
- Jesus also talked about good stewardship: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) The context of this Scripture is discipleship, but it’s an excellent business principle.
For most of us as widows, our financial resources are limited, which makes these difficult days even more challenging. How are we going to manage in 2023 with the prices of food, gas, and everyday living necessities increasing? The following are a few tips garnered from Dave Ramsey, a financial guru:
- Know your income and expenses.
- Pray about your financial situation, asking the Lord to direct your planning and decisions.
- Establish a budget and stick to it.
- Put God first in your budgeting.
- Be wary of grief spending.
- Include savings, even if it’s small, in your budget.
- Get out of debt and eliminate credit card spending.
- If needed, talk to a trusted financial advisor.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) Jesus said: “Do not worry about what to eat, what to drink, or what to wear (Matthew 6:25-34). “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). May God help all of us as widows to trust Him to see us through these troubled times.