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Today I am going to write about a topic I have never written about before: personal finance. I am writing about this not so much for you, faithful reader, as for my kids. My four- and 12-year-old girls are too young for this discussion, but my 18-year-old son, Jonah, is right on the cusp of needing to learn about it.

When I got married in 2000, one of the best gifts given to my bride Rachel and me was lunch with my friend Mark Bauer. Mark and I became friends when we studied at the University of Colorado – he was always my dependable study partner. He is 10 years older than me, which at the time meant he had double my maturity (I was 28).

A few months before our wedding Mark, asked if he could have lunch with Rachel and me. At lunch Mark explained that many marriages come to ruin over money issues.

Mark told us,

A tool that has been very helpful for me is a family budget. On the surface it sounds easy – you project your “revenue” (for your family that would be your and Rachel’s salaries) and then subtract your expenses, and that gives you your net income. If you have money left over then you have savings, and then you can afford to spend money on whatever your hearts desire.