Financial Impact of Divorce

As my husband and I approach our 40th anniversary in two weeks, I have been thinking a great deal of the blessings of a long marriage in both financial and non-financial terms. That will be the subject of my next blog. Today, I want to talk about the devastating financial impact divorce can have on both members of a couple. This was on my mind even before I read the sad announcement today that one of the world’s wealthiest couples is divorcing.

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Bill and Melinda Gates are ending their marriage after 27 years. Their wealth is staggering, and both of them will emerge from the divorce with more money that most of us can comprehend. Hopefully, they will amicably divide their great resources and continue to be generous in their philanthropic endeavors.

For most couples, however, divorce negatively impacts their finances and significantly lowers their standard of living. The costs of obtaining a divorce are staggering. In a relatively amicable dissolution, it is estimated that each partner incurs legal fees in excess of $10,000. Those costs can be much higher if the proceedings are hostile and protracted. Considering that the average household savings in the U.S. is about $42,000, a divorce can wipe out 50% or more of the savings accumulated by the couple.

With their savings significantly depleted and about half of the income they previously enjoyed, each member of the couple must strike out on their own. There are now two rents to be paid and two sets of utility bills. Each spouse winds up with a considerably lower standard of living. There will likely be additional childcare expenses, and perhaps travel expenses, if one spouse moves to a new city or state. Many divorced people struggle for years to achieve the standard of living they enjoyed while married.

Women are hit particularly hard, as they are often the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent typically helps with some of the expenses by paying child support. However, there is often resentment by both parties. It is very rare for either parent to be satisfied with the child support mandated by the courts. The custodial parent struggles to meet the needs of the children, and the non-custodial parent struggles to make the child support payment and provide for his or her own needs. This is not God’s plan, and it is not good for either the parents or the children.

Of course, the devastation of divorce is much more-far reaching than just the financial impacts. And the blessings of a till-death-do-us-part union are much, much greater than the financial blessings. God’s Word tells us that marriage is for life. When Jesus was questioned about divorce, He responded, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10: 5 – 9)

If you want God to bless you in both your marriage and your finances, it is important to make decisions that honor God. That includes loving your spouse and doing all that you can to have a long, prosperous marriage.

Miraculous Provisions

The story of the loaves and the fishes is likely the first story that pops into your mind when you consider how God miraculously multiplies the offerings we present to Him. It is a truly amazing story. A small boy offers his lunch of five small fish and two loaves. Jesus blesses the food and has the disciples distribute it among the thousands of hungry people who have come to hear His words. After all have eaten–five thousand men plus women and children–the disciples collect the leftovers and find that they have more remaining by far than they began. The disciples collected the broken pieces and filled twelve baskets. This story is recounted in Matthew 14: 13 – 21.

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What makes this story even more impressive is that Jesus replicated this miracle sometime later. In the second instance, Jesus fed four thousand men, plus women and children, with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. This time seven baskets of food were remaining after everyone had eaten. (Matthew 15: 20 – 39)

These miracles took place in two different regions but likely within a short period of time. One can overlook the disciples’ skepticism in the first instance that they could provide food for such a large group of people. After all, they barely had enough food for themselves. However, on the second occasion, the disciples were again ready to send the hungry people away. Jesus actually set them up by stating, “I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” Matthew 15: 32. Rather than responding in faith, the disciples failed the test. “His disciples answered, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?’” (v. 33)

It is easy for us to criticize the disciples’ lack of faith. We think they should have learned from the first extravagant multiplication of the offered food that Jesus was capable of multiplying resources and meeting any need, no matter how great. How could have even questioned Jesus’s ability to feed the crowd?

Yet, we are guilty of similar lack of faith in God to meet our needs. God has met our needs time and time again, and we still doubt that He will come through for us in the next “crisis”. Our car breaks down and we fret about how we will be able to pay the mechanic for the repairs. Our hours get cut at work, and we worry about covering the rent. The list goes on and on–a medical test indicates a health problem, the stock market plunges, we hear rumors of layoffs at work, or we don’t get the promotion we had prayed and hoped for–and we fall apart. It feels as if our world has collapsed.

Like the disciples, we ask something along the lines of, “The need is so great. How can it be met?” We need to remind ourselves of all the times God has come through for us in order to increase our faith that He will come through again. God knew us long before we were conceived. He knows that our memory are short and that we have to remind ourselves daily of God’s faithfulness to us. That is why He commanded the Israelites to set up memorials to remind themselves and their children of how God had brought them out of Egypt and blessed them. “Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:19 – 24)

When you ask God to provide for your needs, take note of how He answers you. Record these answers in a blessings journal. Read the journal frequently to remind yourself of God’s goodness to you and to increase your faith. Share these blessings with your children and together thank God for the way He has provided for you and your family. God has never failed you, and He never will.

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Taxes Not Done? Don’t Panic!

It’s April 14. If you have not done your taxes, you might be in panic mode. However, the federal government has extended the tax due date this year, as it did last year. 2020 tax returns are due on May 17. So, you have 32 days until it’s time to panic. But, don’t!

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Don’t panic and don’t procrastinate. Do yourself a favor and block out some time in this weekend to file your tax return. When you do, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. The IRS has extended the deadline for making IRA and health savings account contributions for 2020 until May 17. Many states have also extended their deadlines. Be sure to check your state’s tax web site to verify their deadline.
  2. Covid-19, or economic impact, relief payments to families are not taxable, so don’t include them in your income.
  3. If you did not receive the full economic impact payments, you can claim the Economic Rebate Credit on your taxes. Your refund or amount due will be adjusted by the amount of the credit.
  4. The sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your refund.
  5. If you will owe taxes, it is better to know that now, so that you can make a plan to have the money by May 17.
  6. You can file your return now and schedule any payment to be deducted from your bank account on May 17. Be sure to deduct the payment from your account register now, so you won’t accidentally spend the money.
  7. If you earned less than $72,000, you may be able to file your taxes for free: https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free
  8. Filing your taxes now will relieve you of the burden of knowing your still have to file your taxes. Do your taxes, and then get outside and enjoy some beautiful spring weather.

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 12:25

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God’s Multiplication

I was asked in an interview last week whether a person in debt should postpone paying tithes until he had paid off his debt. That’s an easy question to which the answer is a resounding “No.” Although from a financial point of view, it makes sense to pay off debt rather than make charitable donations, we must keep in mind that God doesn’t operate within the limits of our economic circumstances.

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If you’ve been a Christian for many years, you have likely heard a statement along the lines of, “God can do more with your 90% than you can do with your 100%.” It sounds like a cute cliche that a minister might use to convince his congregation to tithe. It is truth, however, and one that all Christians should take to heart.

God doesn’t need our offerings. He owns it all. God declares, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you. For the world is mine and all that is in it.” Psalm 50:12 (NIV)

God can meet all of our needs without our help. He asks us to give back 10% of the resources He has entrusted to us as a sign of our faith, trust, and obedience. And when we bring our ten percent, He multiples that to do the work of the kingdom, and He multiples the ninety percent that remains to meet our needs.

An great example of God’s multiplication powers is the story of the widow who meet Elijah’s needs, as told in 1 Kings 17. The widow had only enough flour and oil to make a cake each for her son and herself. She was going to prepare a final meal for them before they died. Elijah asked her to make food for him first. The widow obeyed God’s prophet, and God did not allow her flour or oil to run out until the drought had ended.

You may be experiencing great blessings today, or perhaps you are in the midst of difficult financial circumstances. Either way, offer up what you have to the Lord by following His instructions to give ten percent to the work of the church. Then observe how God blesses you. He has promised that He will “throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10, NIV)

How Will You Use Your Economic Impact Check?

By now you have likely received your third economic impact, or stimulus, check from the government. The stated intent of these checks was two-fold: to assist those whose income has been negatively impacted by covid and to stimulate the economy and support small businesses.

If you are one of the estimated 18 million people currently receiving unemployment checks, then you probably need the money to meet basic needs for your family. And, of course, you should use the money to meet those needs.

However, if you, like me, have maintained your pre-covid level of income, the stimulus check represents extra money. How will you use this money? Many people are saving the money or paying down debt. In fact, estimates are that more about 71%% of the money distributed in the first round last spring was put into saving or debt reduction and another 18% was used for essentials. That left 11% to go back in the economy. Of that, 8% was spend on non-essential items and 3% was donated to charities. (Ben Wick, https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-stimulus-checks-savings-pay-debts-federal-reserve-cares-act-2020-10)

While it is wise to save and pay down debt, those actions do not help to stimulate the economy–and get people back to work–nor do they help our neighbors who are in need. I encourage you to consider using this third round of stimulus money in more altruistic ways.

In case you need them, here are some ideas:

  • Tithe. For most of us, this money represents an increase. God asks us to give back to His work 10 percent of our income.
  • Donations to Food Pantries. Many people in your community are relying on food pantries to meet their basic needs. Donations are up, yet there is still a significant need.
  • Purchase gift certificates from local restaurants and small shops. These businesses are still struggling and can benefit from the cash influx. My husband and I have bought gift cards that we have no intention of using. We consider the purchase of the gift cards to be donations to help ensure that our favorite restaurants and shops are still operating post-covid.
  • Donate to campaigns to help local shops and restaurants. Many small business are running fundraising events on social media platforms.
  • Shop with independent businesses. One of favorite expenditures has been ordering fresh seafood directly from fisheries. We’ve had salmon and king crab from Alaska, oysters from Pugent Bay, shrimp from New Orleans, and lobster from Maine. The seafood has been shipped directly to our house. It is fresh and delicious, and we are helping fishermen who revamped their business models when their restaurant sales declined.
  • Donations to funds to help pay for childcare and other services for lower-income workers. Many of these workers are struggling to pay for care for children who would normally be in school while they work.
  • Gifts of appreciation to front-line health care workers. Health care professionals in our area are working full-time schedules and then volunteering additional hours to vaccinate the public. There are many ways you can show your appreciation to them and support your local small businesses.

Of course, we are all praying that the vaccines work and coronavirus is soon a passing memory. In the meantime, pray and thoughtfully consider how you can help those in your community who are facing financial challenges from this pandemic.

Honoring God with Your Money

My new book, Honoring God with Your Money, is now available on Amazon. This book is a study of what God’s word says about money, wealth, charity, greed, tithing, savings, and much more. It includes principles of budgeting and steps for getting out of debt.

Cover of Honoring God with Your Money, by Susan E Ball

If you are stressed by financial decisions or an inability to manage your money, this is a great book for you. God provides us all with resources to provide for our families and to bless others. Money is intended to meet your needs, not cause you more stress.

As you honor God by managing your money well, tithing, and blessing others, God will bless you. He has promised that in Malachi 3:10, “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.‘”

This is a great book for small group studies and Sunday school classes, as well as for young people graduating from high school or college and going out on their own for the first time and newly-married couples. For those who want to teach this in a group setting, I have developed teaching materials. These include activities, discussion ideas, and examples to enhance the lessons. Teaching materials are free and can be obtained my emailing me at susan.ball5@aol.com

I pray that God will use this book to bless you as you honor Him.

God Supplies Our Talents and Resources

In Exodus 31, God provided Moses with instructions on building the tabernacle. As He described the intricate work to be done, Moses probably felt a bit overwhelmed. Then God said something remarkable, “I have put wisdom in the heart of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you.” (Exodus 31:6, NKJV)

In today’s vernacular, God was telling Moses, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”

Just before uttering those words, God told Moses, “I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,  to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.” (Exodus 31:2 – 5)

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As we read on God has called another, Aholiab, to assist in the work of designing, instructing, and overseeing the other gifted men and women in who God had instilled artistic gifts.

Often when God calls us to do a work, we feel overwhelmed. The job is too big, the work is too difficult. We don’t know where to start, and we want to tell God that we aren’t up to the task. Then the Holy Spirit whispers, “I am here with you. I have given you the wisdom, the creativity, the initiative, and the strength to do all the I have commanded you.”

If God has birthed a vision in you, He will empower you to accomplish the work. And He will supply your need. He provided Moses with many gifted artisan to share the load. Those He called, He filled “with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver—those who do every work and those who design artistic works.” (Exodus 35:35, NKJV)A few chapters later, as the work began, God instructed Moses to ask the Israelites to bring offerings for the building of the teabernacle. Moses asked them to bring gold, silver, bronze, thread, linen, goats’ hair, animal skins, wood, spices, and precious gems. The offering was to be given freely, as they were willing. No one was compelled to give.

And what happened? In Exodus 35:21, we read, “Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.” In fact, they brought so many supplies, that the artisans asked Moses to compel the people to stop the offerings. “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do.” (Exodus 36:5, NKJV)

God supplied their needs abundantly. They had more than enough material resources, and they had a great team of men and women in whom God had given the vision and talent needed to accomplish the task.

God has a great plan for your life. And, He will empower you with all that you need to accomplish it. Trust Him and take that step of faith to fulfill the dream He has birthed in your heart.

My One Word of 2021–Stewardship

I have chosen “stewardship” to be the word that I focus on for 2021. Stewardship relates to how we care for the duties and possessions entrusted to us. Specifically, how we manage the resources given to us by God.

In Genesis chapter 1, God commanded Adam to care for the earth and subdue. There are many stories of stewards in the Bible–some good and some bad stewards.

Growing up in the Assemblies of God, I have been involved in Girls Ministries for nearly 50 years. One of the principles that was impressed upon my was that I was to be a good steward of my time, talent, and money. 1 Corinthians 4:12, “Moreover, it is regard in stewards that a man be found faithful,” is a verse that I learned at a young age. It has guided me throughout my life in how I manage my money and conduct my life.

Managing my time has been more challenging. This year, I will focus on displaying faithful stewardship more thoroughly in how I spend my time. I will also encourage others to be faithful stewards in how they handle their money and other resources entrusted to them by God.

Money stewardship is the theme of my newest book, “Honoring God with Your Money.” In it, I examine what the Bible says about money in how we budget and spend our money, as well how we give and our attitudes towards money. The book will be published in the coming weeks.

As I juggle being a full-time employee, a wife, and mother and grandmother, with other obligations that include working in Girls Ministries and church leadership and writing books, faithful stewardship of my time has been even more critical.

Throughout this year, I encourage you to examine your own stewardship of your time, talent, and financial resources. Are you honoring God in all that you do?

Supporting Entrepreneurship through Samaritan’s Purse

I have long been enthusiastic about the work that Samaritan’s Purse does to spread the gospel around the world. The organization is best known for Operation Christmas Child, which delivers millions of shoe boxes filled with gifts to impoverished children around the world.

Samaritan’s Purse also provides relief to communities impacted by natural disasters. The organization is less well-known for supporting micro-business entrepreneurship around the world.

Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog
Chickens from Samaritan’s Purse

This week I allowed my granddaughters to choose an opportunity to help a family establish a business. Brooklyn choose Baby Chicks. Our $14 donation will supply a family with a dozen chicks. Each grown chicken can supply up to 200 eggs per year. She is helping to feed this family and to earn income by selling their extra eggs.


Maddie selected beekeeping. The donation of $20 will help a family get starting in producing honey which can be sold, along with beeswax, to meet the needs of their family.

Honey bee hives provided by Samaritan’s Purse give a family with an opportunity to support itself.



Samaritan’s Purse has many other opportunities for you to assist a family in starting a small business. Business ownership enables a family to be self-sufficient and help to meet the needs of their community. I encourage everyone to pray about helping establish new, small businesses around the world and share the love of Christ.

To learn more about Samaritan’s Purse, go to https://www.samaritanspurse.org

Thank you, Colin Kaepernick

Thank you for breaking the hold that professional football had on my time and attention. Before you decided to use my favorite sport as your personal platform, I scheduled my weekends around watching college and professional football. Since then, I have stopped watching the NFL altogether. That has freed up several hours each week to do things that are, quite frankly, more interesting and far more valuable uses of my time.

Much of the Old Testament is the history of the nation of Israel. God called the Israelites to be His people–set apart to worship the one true God with all their hearts and their minds and their souls. The nations that surrounded them worshiped many false gods–idols.

The Israelites had a tendency to cast their eyes at their neighbors and begin to integrate their lifestyles and practices into Israel’s culture. Time and time again, we read that Israel built altars to false gods and turned their back on the Lord God Jehovah.

God would allow the Israelites to sink into bondage until a new leader arose who tore down the altars–the high places–and led the people back into worshiping God alone.

American Christians have allowed false gods, such as professional athletes and celebrities, to capture our attention and our devotion. It is time to pull down the high places–the NFL, the NBA, Hollywood, or whatever it is that has captured our hearts–and give our full devotion to the Lord.

These things no longer have my attention. And, for that, I am thankful to Colin Kaepernick for helping to break my fascination with football.