It’s God’s Money, Not Ours
A young couple works hard to align their finances and faith values, with God at the center.
By Jessica Brodie • Photo by Daniel LaBelle
It all started five years ago with a trip to the grocery store. Kelsey and Kevin Paasch of Janesville, Wisconsin, were getting ready to have their second child, but a pregnancy complication meant Kelsey had to step away from her job—and her high income. They weren’t in awful shape, but like many couples, they had car debt, a mortgage, several student loans and no monthly budget.
When they lost Kelsey’s income, they knew they needed a change.
We didn’t start by saying ‘Let’s budget everything.’ The first step was Kelsey saying, ‘I’m going to make a list of what we need at the grocery store,’” Kevin says.
That simple plan took their grocery bill from $250 per week to $75 per week—and opened their eyes.
“We realized that if we are intentional about our money, there’s a lot more opportunity to do other things,” Kevin says.
Today, the couple has transformed their life. Now with three kids—Joshua, 7; Michael, 4; and Beverleigh, 10 months—they have paid off their student and car loans, they’re tackling their mortgage, they have college savings accounts for their kids, and they tithe regularly.
“Now we have monthly budget meetings, and we’re on the same page,” Kelsey says.
They consulted with their Thrivent Financial professional, Joe Albers, and read books. They realized it’s God’s money, not theirs, and they began learning how to be better stewards for Him.
“We ask questions like, ‘It’s His money, not ours, so what do we do with that money? How do we be more intentional and make sure we’re tithing?’” Kelsey says.
Albers, from Madison, Wisconsin, says the Paasches’ financial journey is incredibly affirming.
“They’re following the core financial principles,” he says, “and it’s all because they flipped that switch and decided, ‘We’re not going to live paycheck to paycheck, not going to do this our whole lives. We’re going to put our faith and family at the center.’”
‘Keep at it’
In the early days, they worked hard to tame their spending and pay off bills. They made what Kevin called mini goals as they’d inch along. Kelsey began organizing all their financial tools. One binder contains their monthly budget, to keep their daily and weekly bills straight, and another their long-term financial information, like bank statements, college savings information, stock options, term life insurance contracts, 401(k)s, wills and identity theft protection information.
To stay motivated, they post signs on their walls, including Bible verses, savings goals and sayings like “It’s His money, not ours.”
“That was so inspiring to me,” Albers says, “for them to show me around their house and to say, ‘This is what we’re doing, and this is why we’re doing it.’”
There have been rough spots over the years. “We’re not perfect—we try to budget, but we’re a young family and we are people, too. We have things come up,” Kevin says. But the important thing is they keep at it and set reasonable goals.
"We realized that if we are intentional about our money, there's a lot more opportunity to do other things." —Kevin Paasch
A marathon, not a sprint
Kevin and Kelsey also are working hard to teach their kids about money so they don’t repeat their parents’ mistakes. Using chore boards, the older kids earn a dollar for emptying the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen and other household tasks.
“If they want to buy a toy, they have money to do so,” Kelsey says.
“They learn we don’t just hand them money,” Kevin adds. “They have to earn it.” After all, money can be a huge source of conflict, and they are determined for it not to be an issue in their home.
Kevin says the most exciting part of their new life is watching their mortgage diminish.
“I don’t ever want to have another payment in my life again,” he says, noting they recently bought a used vehicle using cash only.
For Kelsey, the most exciting thing is the level of communication she and Kevin now have.
“When we started our marriage, there was guilt about buying or not buying, but now we have fun money. We can go do something fun, and then the next month go do something else, and there’s no guilt. It’s all about communication,” she says.
They’ve realized it’s OK to spend money as long as they’re able to talk honestly and keep their faith and family at the center.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep at it, and you’ll get there,” Kevin says. “It may not be easy at times, but remember you’re in it together.”
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning journalist and Christian author in South Carolina.