Although our early twenties were spent wasting most of the money we made, we eventually matured enough to realize what we were doing. In fact, becoming pregnant with our second daughter made us freak out. All of a sudden, we began to realize that time was slipping away from us. Getting older meant that that we had to start taking things seriously. Therefore we decided to take this challenge head on and pay off all of our consumer debt ASAP. How did we reach this conclusion? Together.
The truth is that we’ve never argued about money in our entire eight years of marriage. Don’t believe me? It’s true!! People often ask us why we’re always on the same wavelength. Honestly, I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because we ultimately want the same things out of life – peace, stability, early retirement, and lots of travel and fun along the way.
So I decided to detail how we make our finances work as a team. What follows is a boring story about two people getting along. It’s not exciting, dramatic, or suspenseful.
Now that I’m self-employed, we get paid at various times throughout the month. Since both of our incomes fluctuate, I choose to budget on last month’s earnings. This way, I’m never trying to create a budget built on wishful thinking. Budgeting off of our last month’s earnings means that we’re always budgeting on what we made and not what we wish we would’ve made. Anyway, on the 1st of each month I create a budget for that month. I put our fixed expenses in the budget and I estimate variable expenses such as utility bills. I also allow a $500 grocery budget for the month and $200 for unplanned purchases. Then, Greg and I sit down together and talk. At this time, we also add in any “extras.” Sometimes Greg will need new underwear or a new book. Sometimes I want to get my hair highlighted. I almost always ask for breast implants and Greg always immediately says “no.”
Once all expenses are agreed upon, we see what’s left over. We then allocate money to savings, mortgage prepayment, and our kid’s college funds. Once we’re in agreement, I pay the bills according to the plan we’ve laid out. I also immediately transfer whatever we’ve decided to save to savings. That way, it’s out of sight and out of mind.
This approach works great for us and the only tricky part is deciding what goes in the budget and what doesn’t. Thankfully, I can’t remember a time when either of us strongly disagreed about spending on a particular item. Greg rarely wants anything for himself aside from an occasional book for his kindle. And honestly, neither one of us are into “stuff.” I’m not the stereotypical woman who is into purses and shoes and Greg doesn’t play the stereotypical man who likes gadgets and cars. It just isn’t us. Typically, when we decide to put a “splurge” into the budget, it’s for an experience that we can both enjoy- like getting a babysitter and going out alone for dinner and a movie.
So, there it is….a boring story about two people making things work. Boring is good sometimes and I think that can be the case when it comes to marriage and money. No, my life isn’t exciting. I don’t have financial highs and lows or twists and turns…and that’s alright by me. I sleep great at night, have peace with my spouse, and have peace with myself. That is truly priceless.
For more of our thoughts on money and marriage, click on these great posts!
- Separate Finances: A Recipe for Marital Disaster
- Who Wears the Financial Pants in Your Family?
- Should Married Couples Combine Their Finances?
- Combining Finances: Holly’s Perspective