By Wendel Elliott and Norma Elliott: Prime rib living on a Taco Bell budget

You might have to change a balding tire once in a while, but living resourcefully is God's plan. Photo by Norma Elliott

Have you ever been to a bull sale? You mark off the day on the calendar; get a little money together in hopes to buy that perfect bull. Well as perfect as the budget will allow anyways, you may even be like us…..Prime rib taste on a Taco Bell budget. Regardless, you and your honey have big dreams; you hope to see your herd shape up to be show stoppers.

We experienced this once at a high dollar horse sale. A well known ranch was going out of business and had to liquidate their assets. What an opportunity! We would hook up our welded up trailer, decide which of our bald tires could make the 700 mile trip, and gather up some money to do some bidding.

Much to our surprise, we pulled up to a perfectly groomed pasture, with parking attendants, taxiing nicely dressed ranch folks to their covered arena sale. We thought we took a wrong turn, and were about to bid on Kentucky racehorses. A quick glance at the crisp flyer with papered quarter horses told us we were in the right place.

We grabbed a little deeper in our pocket, hoping our money may have multiplied on the trip, but no such luck! But good ranch families don’t let the appearance of things get them down. We accessed the pristine stalls with each horse’s name typed out in bold letters, bloodlines followed. We might have drooled a little. We wrote down the horses we were interested in and registered for our buyer’s card.

The first couple of horses sold for more than our pickup cost; we decide to move back a few rows. Perhaps the move would mean lower priced horses. As the sale continued we continued moving back until we ended up sitting on the grass. The only bid we made the whole day…..the last horse, a blind mare with a limp. We lost the bid! Our plan and goal was to try to find a good deal on a quality horse.

Your goals might include cows that calve easier, have a bigger hip. You might want steers that have more muscle in the front end. Show quality might not be your goal; however, you may just want to raise cattle that don’t look like a Cowpokes cartoon. Again, the goal and plan may not line up with what you’re able to purchase.

What do we do if we continually find ourselves out of money before we’re out of month? It boils down to the same strategy as getting undesirable traits out of the herd. You do something new. You get a new bull. As the saying goes, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, then you keep getting what you’re getting.”

What is something new that you could do dealing with finances in your marriage? What could happen if you implemented some different strategies to handle them? How could it change your marriage? As cowmen and women we study at length the outcome that we are wanting in our herds. Then, we go get what we need in order to get that trait. Why don’t we do the same thing when it comes to finances in our marriages?

Here are some new things that you and your spouse could use in dealing with money in your marriage:

*Have written goals and monthly meetings to access them.

We have a price in mind to buy a bull. We know what the market is when we go to get a bid for our yearlings. That knowledge and action in our marriage comes out in a budget. An agreed upon budget where both husband and wife have a say. Plus both have to look at it, examine it and change if necessary.

Luke 14:28 (NIV) “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”

*Tithe or give some away

Nothing changes our perspective off of our self or being selfish than thinking of and helping others. This can be done through our local church or a charity that you both agree to give money toward.

Matt. 23:23 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

*Be honest with one another

No buying items outside of the budget or keeping things hidden in the closet, tack room, or shop. Don’t keep money hidden from your spouse.

Luke 6:31 (NIV) “Do to others as you would have them do to you”

*Keep personal household finances separate from generational family ranch operations

This is our house hold and our money. No buying things for the family ranching operation out of our household salary or money.

Gen. 2:24 (NIV) “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

*Be careful of your “yeses”

When we say, “yes” to one thing that automatically says, “no” to other things; because our money is finite. However saying no to the right things can set you up to be able to say yes to other things in the future.

Matt. 5:37(NIV) “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

*Have a common financial goal.

If your goal is to get out of debt, imagine what that would do for your children or grand children? Who could we help if we had our finances in order? What level of generosity could we give towards others?

Prov. 13:22 (NIV) “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children…”

We may have had unrealistic goals that day of the horse sale and it could have been a disaster for the long trip back to the ranch. We did learn however that in order to do it differently the next time we have to do something new. We have to have a new game plan to accomplish those financial goals.

Well, it looks like we need to sit down with the yellow pad and a calculator. We’ll see ya’ll out in the pasture.

Wendel and Norma Elliott