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Money Problems in Marriage

 

In this series of articles we’re looking at how the Bahá’í Marriage Vow “We will all verily abide by the Will of God” can help solve the 10 most common marriage problems.  In this article we will explore the topic of money problems in marriage.

Although it’s not required for the people of the west yet, the Kitab-i-Aqdas makes provision for the payment of a dowry prior to marriage.  This is a sum of money paid by the husband to the wife, to provide her with a sum of money which is hers to keep and use as she wishes. The reason is that even if the girl has nothing, she becomes a bride with property of her own.

 No marriage may be contracted without payment of a dowry (KIA#66)  . . . The dowry is to be paid by the bridegroom to the bride. It is fixed at 19 mithqals of pure gold for city-dwellers, and 19 mithqals of silver for village-dwellers (see note 94).

The purpose is to promote the comfort of all, and to bring about concord and union among the people. Therefore, the greater the consideration shown in these matters the better it will be.  (Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 209)

To calculate a Mithqal, I recommend the Bahá’í Mithqal Calculator

As of July 13, 2012, nineteen mithqals is equal to $3585.88 for city dwellers, and only $54.78 for village dwellers.   Clearly it’s in the woman’s best interest to marry a city dweller!

In previous dispensations, the dowry was a “bride price” where the woman was purchased, and the money given by the bride’s family to the groom.  In this dispensation, Baha’u’llah makes provision for women to have money of their own.  This is a huge step towards equality, and symbolic of the woman’s right to have money of her own, to spend as she wills.  This is particularly important, since the husband’s role is that of breadwinner, while the wife is the primary educator of the child.  When couples choose to live on one income in order to fulfill this role, the principle of the dowry suggests that women have a right to money of their own which they can spend as they wish.  This can be very empowering if handled correctly!

If the bride later seeks a divorce, she still is entitled to keep the dowry:

Should either party, following the recital of the specifically revealed verse and the payment of the dowry, take a dislike to the other . . . the taking back of the dowry, however, is not permitted.      (Baha’u’llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 40)

Secondly, it’s the will of God for us to give sacrificially to the fund, and when we do, we are promised a tenfold reward.

All the friends of God … should contribute to the extent possible, however modest their offering may be . . . Such contributions must come from all centers and all believers. … O Friends of God! Be ye assured that in place of these contributions, your agriculture, your industry, and your commerce will be blessed by manifold increases, with goodly gifts and bestowals. He who cometh with one goodly deed will receive a tenfold reward. There is no doubt that the living Lord will abundantly confirm those who expend their wealth in His path.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 83)

This is a much higher interest rate than any bank is currently paying; and with all the corruption surrounding the banking system, it helps to put your money in God’s bank, to protect your savings.

Closely related to this is paying your Right of God (Huqúqu’lláh), because (among other benefits) it averts loss and disaster.

This weighty ordinance, as testified by the Pen of Glory is invested with incalculable benefit and wisdom. It purifies one’s possessions, averts loss and disaster, conduces to prosperity and honour and imparts divine increase and blessing.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá,  Huqúqu’lláh #100)

Many couples fight about money because they worry about the potential loss that’s following them, knowing that Baha’u’llah has said:

Be not troubled in poverty nor confident in riches, for poverty is followed by riches, and riches are followed by poverty.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words, #51)

When couples contribute to the Fund, and pay the Right of God, they’re protecting their assets, and can trust that God will provide them with everything they need.  It takes away much of the stress around money.

Moderation and the payment of debts are two other ways to bring our lives into the will of God:

In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 294)

Careful study of the writings on materialism and the Right of God will show what moderation might look like when we consider the differences between our needs and wants, but it’s beyond the scope of this article to explore it more fully.

You might find the following articles helpful:

When is Enough Enough

 Does God Want us to be Wealthy?

Why I don’t Want to be Wealthy 

With regards to the payment of debts, it’s a matter of truthfulness.

 In connection with the demands for payment of which thou hast written in thy letter, it is manifestly clear that anyone who hath the ability to settle his debts, and yet neglecteth to do so, hath not acted in accordance with the good pleasure of the one true God. Those who incur debts should strive to settle them with all diligence and application. God’s binding commandments with respect to trustworthiness, uprightness and the honouring of rights have been recorded in clear and perspicuous language in all the sacred Books, Tablets, Scriptures and holy Writings. Well is it with him whom the fleeting vanities of the world have not deprived of a lasting adornment, and whom avarice and negligence have not shut out from the illumination of the sun of trustworthiness. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 336)

I see this in two ways:

  • Is it truthful to spend money I don’t have (using credit cards?)
  • Is it truthful to run the credit cards up so high that you have to declare bankruptcy?

These two questions have helped me pay off all my debts so I am now debt free.

Once truthfulness is firmly in place, the rest is dependent on trusting that the blessings of God will ensure you are able to pay off your debts:

Trust in God and engage in your work and practice economy; the confirmations of God shall descend and you will be enabled to pay off your debts. Be ye occupied always with the mention of Bahá’u’lláh and seek ye no other hope and desire save Him.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 375)

Two articles which will further your understanding about the Bahá’í perspective on debt:

5 Things you need to Know about Debt 

How to Save Money During a Recession 

For more information please see:

 Role Confusion 

Sex 

Infidelity 

In-laws and Children

Communication 

Spending Time Together

Love and Effort 

Unresolved Baggage from Childhood

Gossip and Backbiting

For more on this topic, please see:

Introduction to Marriage Vows

We Will All Verily Abide by the Will of God

Sex Before Marriage 

Sex Inside Marriage 

Using the Year of Patience 

 How else does the Will of God help solve money problems in marriage?  Are there principles I’ve missed?  What are your thoughts on what you’ve read?  Post your comments here:

 

 

 

5 Things You Need to Know About Debt

 

These days everyone in my Bahá’í-inspired life coaching practice is looking for ways to reduce debt and save money. It is possible to wipe out your existing debt and learn how to live your life within your means.  As you’ll see below, the traditional approach is best combined with the Bahá’í Writings.

Here are five tips from the Bahá’í Faith that will help you on your way to debt free living:

1. Consider our debts as sacred, and pay them before everything else.

Our debts, however, should be considered as sacred and take precedence over any other thing [ i.e., payment of debts comes before contributions to the Cause] for upon this principle does the foundation of our economic life rest. (Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahai Administration, p. 20)

2. Pay our Huqúq (Right of God) and keep it up to date.

It is clear and evident that the payment of the Right of God is conducive to prosperity, to blessing, and to honour and divine protection.  (Baha’u’lláh, Huqúqu’lláh, #6, p. 2)

Well is it with him who ascendeth unto God, without any obligations to Huququ’llah and to His servants.  (Baha’u’llah, Lights of Guidance, p. 306)

Know thou moreover, that those who faithfully serve the All-Merciful will be enriched by Him out of His heavenly treasury.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Huqúqu’lláh, #75, p. 26).

It purifies one’s possessions, averts loss and disaster, conduces to prosperity and honour and imparts divine increase and blessing.  (Universal House of Justice, Huqúqu’lláh, #100, p. 36).

3. Make teaching your first priority, then trust, work and economize.

Thou hast asked regarding the means of livelihood. Trust in God and engage in your work and practice economy; the confirmations of God shall descend and you will be enabled to pay off your debts. Be ye occupied always with the mention of Baha’u’llah and seek ye no other hope and desire save Him.  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 375)

4. Focus on spiritual health.

I hope thou wilt become as a rising light and obtain spiritual health — and spiritual health is conducive to physical health — so that thou mayest be enabled to liquidate thy debts.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, v2, p. 305)

5. Use this prayer:

And, finally, I beg of Thee by the light of Thy countenance to bless my affairs, and redeem my debts, and satisfy my needs.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations, p. 248)

There are steps we can take on the material plane too, to enable us to “walk the spiritual path with practical steps.”

Here are 5 additional steps you can take:

1. Stop using credit cards. One of the leading factors in the current economic crisis is people buying things on credit they cannot afford. The next thing they know, they find themselves unable to do anything more than make minimum monthly payments.

  • Minimum payments will keep you in debt because every month interest continues to accrue on your original balance. A $1,000 balance on a typical credit card can take 22 years to pay off if you make only the minimum monthly payments!
  • Don’t fall into the trap of credit card debt. Instead, avoid the hassle and expense by paying cash for the things you buy. If you want a big-ticket item, save the cash before you make the purchase. Only buy when you can afford to pay for the item in full before you bring it home.

2. Buy luxury items with cash. We all have extras and luxuries we want, but using credit to get them is a dangerous path to take. You’ll get much greater enjoyment from the extras in your life when you pay cash, rather than ongoing monthly payments.

  • Nothing takes the excitement out of a new toy or nice vacation more than the large payments that strain your budget month after month.

3. Create a realistic budget that includes debt repayment. The first step in gaining control over your debt is creating a workable budget. Rather than stifling you, a budget can bring you freedom! You’ll know where your money goes and you’ll set a spending plan so you can continue buying the most important things in your life.

  • Your budget should take into consideration all facets of your lifestyle, including housing, food and household items, utilities, savings, recreation and debt repayment.
  • If your budget doesn’t include room for debt repayment, there will never be enough money to pay off your debt. Take control of your financial reality by working with a realistic budget every month. Before long, you’ll see your debt diminishing while your savings grow.

4. Seek the help of a professional credit counselor, accountant or financial planner. The best way to be sure you’re making sound financial decisions is to seek out the help of a financial professional.

  • Credit counselors, financial planners and accountants are experts in the areas of savings, debt repayment, investments and tax deductions. Implement each of these areas into your finances to eliminate financial strain and secure a stable financial future.

5. Negotiate better rates with the banks or credit card companies. Many people assume they have no choice but to accept the interest and finance rates offered by their banks and credit card companies, but that isn’t always the case!

  • Talk to the people at your financial institutions. You may be surprised at how willing they are to budge.
  • If your credit is in good shape or you’ve made steady, progressive strides to improve it, you may be able to get lower interest rates on your debts.
  • You might also receive higher interest rates on your savings, giving you a double shot at eliminating your debt entirely and moving forward with your finances in a positive direction.

You can repair your debt problems and learn to avoid creating them in the future. These five steps will point you in the right direction and get you started on a new path to financial freedom and prosperity!

What’s been your experience with debt?  Post your comments here:

How to Save Money During a Recession

 

Whether you want to admit it or not, there’s a global recession happening, and it’s affecting millions of families. People are being laid off, companies are going under, and even some governments are completely broke.  Let’s face it.  The old world order is collapsing, just as Bahá’u’lláh predicted it would.  Being caught in it, isn’t much fun, though, is it?

Finding ways to cut back on your spending can help you during this difficult economic period. Saving money is always good, but it’s a skill that becomes especially important during a recession.

How can you save money during a recession? It’s all about paying the Right of God first, and then planning, cutting frivolous costs, and changing the way you spend money.

The Baha’i Writings teach:

It is clear and evident that the payment of the Right of God is conducive to prosperity, to blessing, and to honour and divine protection.  (Baha’u’llah, Lights of Guidance, p. 304)

Here are some handy tips you can use to help you save money:

1. Pay important bills first. The mortgage, electricity, water and heat have to be paid no matter what.

2. Save Money on groceries. Groceries are a huge, yet necessary, expense. After the bills are paid, most of the budget will fall into the groceries category.

• Buy generic rather than name brands. They usually taste just as good but cost less.

• Buy non-perishable foods in bulk. Many items can be bought in bulk such as rice, canned foods, and frozen foods.

• Never shop on an empty stomach or during the Bahá’í Fast. Eat before grocery shopping; otherwise, you’ll wind up buying more junk and convenience foods because you’re hungry.

• Make a list of what you need and stick to it. It really is that simple!

• Cut and use coupons. 10 for $10 deals and sale items are your friends. Combining coupons with sales can slash your grocery bill even more.

• Avoid shopping at expensive stores, even if they’re closer to home. Instead, go a few miles out of the way for the discount grocery stores. Most items in the store are exactly the same thing, other than the price tag.

3. Rent movies or borrow them from the library, instead of going out. Have a movie night once a week. Sit down with some popcorn (the kind you pop on the stove) and watch a movie. This is a great way to spend quality family time, without much expense.

4. Put the credit card down. Credit purchases may get your “stuff” now, but you’ll pay double for it later. If you want something, save up and pay cash or wait.  Leave it out of your wallet, so you have to go home and get it, before you can make a purchase.  This will give you a “cooling down” period.

5. Cook at home. If you go out to eat two or three times a week, cut back to once every two weeks or once a month. Instead, learn to cook at home. If you plan ahead and cook in quantities, you’ll save time and money by popping the extra portions into the freezer.

6. Unplug. If there are things in your house plugged into the wall and you aren’t using them, unplug them. Many items, like computers and phone chargers, draw electricity whether they’re on or not. Plug it in when you need it, then unplug it when you’re done.

7. Lower your thermostat. Set your thermostat at a specific temperature and leave it there. 68 to 70 is an energy-saving setting in the winter. If you get chilly, put on a sweater or grab a blanket. You’ll save more than you realize on your heating bills.

These are just some of the many ways to save money and stretch your dollar a bit further during these challenging times. These tips require a change to your habits, which can take some getting used to. In time, however, you’ll adjust and the money you save can make a big difference in your budget.

It’s important to stick with your plan to save money. Making a change for a week won’t do the trick. Committing to changing bad habits for good will reap the greatest benefits in the long run.

Once you’ve paid the bills, don’t forget to pay the Right of God.  It has to be paid before the donations to the Bahá’í Fund, so including it in your regular monthly payments is one way to ensure peace of mind during the recession.

What’s your experience with saving money or paying the Right of God?  Post your comments here:

Abundance

 

One day someone asked me what the key to abundance was, and you know what I answered?

I bet you thought I was going to say “prayer”, didn’t you? And no, it wasn’t “grace” either, though both things are necessary.

Remember this quote from Ruhi Book 1? I had tutored this book countless times before I finally “got it”.

The WHOLE DUTY of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him.
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8)

Not only this, but sometimes I feel guilty for reaching for the bounties, but God alleviates this fear, and gives me a reason to do it:

Strive ye to receive your share of this eternal food, so that ye shall be loved and cherished in this world and the next.
(‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, p. 77)

When I finally I understood these 2 quotes, I couldn’t believe that my full time job was to “catch the goodies that God is showering upon me, and that not only would I get the “goodies” but also be loved in both worlds!” YES! This is heady stuff! “The Secret” has nothing on these Bahá’í quotes!And how does one receive abundance? By paying the Right of God (Huqúqu’lláh) . . . :

It is clear and evident that the payment of the Right of God is conducive to prosperity . . .
(Huqúqu’lláh, p. 2)

However, the people are as yet ignorant of its significance.
(Huqúqu’lláh, p. 15)

. . . and by giving sacrificially to the Bahá’í Fund.

Be ye assured that in place of these contributions, your agriculture, your industry, and your commerce will be blessed by manifold increases, with goodly gifts and bestowals. He who cometh with one goodly deed will receive a TENFOLD
REWARD.
(Baha’i Prayers, p. 83)

Where in this day and age, can we find a guaranteed 10% return on investment we can trust?

So this is something I practice on a regular basis. Whether it’s giving with my time, my knowledge or my money, I give freely, and turn the cup of my life heavenward, to make sure I catch every bounty coming my way.

There’s another element which I found interesting: gratitude.

Arise to offer thanks to God, in order that thanksgiving may conduce to the increase of bounty.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 484.)

If we aren’t grateful for the things we already have, why would God give us any more?

Knowing God’s promises has taken a lot of pressure off my shoulders, and whenever I find myself getting worried about money, I remember to ask Him to let me do the work and let Him find the money.

The bounties aren’t always cheques in the mail. Sometime a friend makes extra food and brings some over. Other times, someone takes me out for dinner and pays for it. Sometimes, an overbooked day gets cancelled so I have some needed time to myself, and sometimes it’s payment for an act of service. A few months ago, a friend sold me a car on a “pay me when you can, interest free” plan, charging me half the market value! Recently a “soup kitchen” has opened in our community, free to anyone who wants to go. They serve 3 course meals twice a week, and there are always leftovers to take home for meals in between! As a single person living a busy life, I don’t always have time to shop or cook and there isn’t much incentive to cook on my own, so now I’m eating much more healthy foods, on a regular basis and I am grateful!

What forms has abundance taken in your life? Post your comments here.

Debt and Bahá’í-Inspired Life Coaching

 

The topic of debt presents an interesting dilemma for most of us living in a mortgage, loan and credit card dependent society. We’re told that the foundation of our economic life rests on the settlement of our debts. Most of us understand the importance of regular and sacrificial donation to the fund, and are heartened to know that in place of these contributions, we will be rewarded tenfold. And most of us give to the fund. However, we are told that debts should be considered as sacred and take precedence over contributions to the Cause. In addition, we are told that we should pay our Right of God before our contributions to the Cause or before going on pilgrimage. So if we take care of our debts and the Right of God first, how will we have anything left over to give the fund?

What are your thoughts on debt? Post your comments here: