May 25, 2020
Today we are talking about money, and if we can be totally honest, we are so excited! Marriage and money go hand and hand. Getting on the same page with your finances and having a plan for how you’re going to spend your money will transform your marriage and your lives. Today we are going to cover our huge spending differences, how we plan out our budget, and what our financial dreams are! Take a listen to hear more!
A Clarification About Our Bank Accounts
Cody and I both differ so much in our spending habits, but together we’ve balanced each other out and found ways to use our money more wisely. Seriously, it is a dramatic difference from when we first got married. Today, we are going to talk about budgeting and being on the same page with your money. To be clear, we believe that if you’re married you are joined together. Therefore, so is your bank account.
We knew from the start that we did not want to have separate bank accounts, and that was for many different reasons. When our money is all pooled together, there is a sense of financial intimacy that is actually proven by studies. I compare it to a lot of other situations in marriage. Take food for example- when you are married you buy your groceries together, right?! You make most of your meals with the purpose of eating them together. Yes, sometimes I make a salad for lunch and Cody makes a burger- but our objective is the same: to get what we need. So while we firmly believe that a joint account is necessary in order to build trust and intimacy in your marriage, you’ll hear us explain exactly what that looks like when it comes to decision making and spending our money.
Our Spending Differences
First let’s talk about our differences and how we got on the same page. Cody is a spender and I am a saver. We spent the first part of our marriage on totally different pages with money. Cody has always been a spender. According to Cody, he doesn’t think growing up that he ever had more than a few hundred dollars before he bought a new guitar or pedals or a microphone or some speakers for my car.
Bringing that into our marriage, Cody ended up buying things for our apartment pretty regularly. Stuff we didn’t really plan on buying, he just wanted them and he bought them. Cody also would buy things for himself, like guitar pedals. Once, he bought an audio interface and then kind of tried to hide from me…haha! Mixing all of this together with my saver mentality, Cody and I clashed pretty hard.
I’m sure other women can relate to this but what was happening was I was letting my inner dialogue run crazy with accusations about Cody’s spending, but I wasn’t sharing any of my frustrations with him. It all was bubbling up and I would honestly get upset when he bought a new container of soap when we had a half full one under the sink!
But we value clear and honest communication. So it took a lot of time, but eventually we discussed the situation together. We discussed how we needed to be on the same page with our spending. We share our bank accounts so it’s all our money. And it wasn’t about not spending or spending- it was about us working as a team to decide what we should do with our money. Neither of us was making the wrong decision with our spending- we just weren’t working as a team!
How We Balance Each Other Out
Cody decides he wants something and pours hours into researching it and has a decision within a day, whereas I decide I want something and I spend months thinking about the decision but doing nothing. While I thought Cody was spending impulsively and making unwise decisions, he thought I was crazy for never deciding on anything!
We figured out that we need to work together to have a balance. I taught Cody that if you take some time, maybe even a few days, that you can make a much more grounded decision on whether we really need that thing or not.
Cody: “That is such a good mentality and I am so glad we talked about this and you nudged me in this direction. I remember kind of fighting it in the beginning, but after giving it a shot on a few purchases, it really opened my eyes to see that life goes on without a new vacuum because ours works just fine. We don’t need the brand new iPhone. I started realizing a lot of the things I wanted were great but not essential and most of our money was being spent on things that didn’t matter to our well being. You were able to balance me out by sharing the ways you consider your purchases for a while before you make your final decision… so that leads us into your super saving habits!”
I have such a hard time spending money- like even if it’s for something I need! I probably have 100 screenshots on my iPhone of clothes I wanted to order, beauty products I wanted to buy, or furniture for our house that I love. I have this terrible cycle of identifying something I need or want, looking for products and usually adding them to an online cart, looking at the total and trying to justify my spending only to walk away from it and never actually purchase anything!
When I was growing up I had this notion -that I now know was weird and not correct- that my family was perpetually in need of money. Both of my parents were teachers and I know we were not rich by any means but I ALWAYS had what I needed. I never went hungry, I always got new school supplies and clothes before going to school in the fall, and birthday parties and Christmas were full of presents. But for some odd reason in the back of my head I had this feeling that we didn’t have what we needed. I became a saver who was fueled by guilt.
This guilt followed me into adulthood. I rarely purchase things just for fun out of a fear and guilt that I should be doing something better with my money. I second guess my purchases over and over so much so that I just stop spending money.
Before I said that I taught Cody how sleeping on a decision can help you to make the best choice when it comes to spending, he really taught me how to be proactive and decisive and not feel guilty!
Cody was able to help me learn that it’s okay to spend money on things that you need and sometimes things that you don’t need but that you want. It’s really powerful how we both had tendencies on our own that when brought together, helped the other live more wisely and more enjoyably in the topic of spending.
There is an incredible story about how Cody helped me to spend money on something just for fun that actually changed the course of our entire lives…but you’ll have to tune in to hear that story!!
Why We Budget our Money
Our next topic is budgeting. I want to start by saying that we believe people or businesses that don’t operate on a budget are already set up to struggle. Benjamin Franklin said “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
A budget is a road map for how much you are going to spend, how much you’re going to save, how much you’re going to invest, and how much you’re going to give. If you don’t have a plan, you cannot come close to using your money to its fullest potential AND you will always feel robbed at the end of each month when you look at your bank account.
Cody remembers looking at our account balance before fun purchases and thinking, “yeah we’re fine” not remembering that our rent and car payments hadn’t come out yet. Then at the end of the month he’d be left thinking, “where’d it all go?” The little things add up quickly and before you know it, you’re just scraping by. Once we finally started a budget, we were able to see how much more we could save by living like this, “if it’s not in the budget, it’s not going to happen.”
What We Consider When Making Our Budget
Now, let’s break down what our budget includes, because right now it sounds like there is NO fun spending included in a budget, but we promise there is! We start with how much income we are going to bring in and base our budget on that. Then we look at household expenses: mortgage or rent, electricity, gas for the cars, water, food, clothing, and miscellaneous maintenance. After that we focus on debt: cars, school, credit cards, and any other loans that are outstanding. Then the subscriptions like internet, phone bills, Netflix, Spotify, etc. And after all of that, the fun beings. We determine how much we are willing to spend at restaurants, coffee shops, and we each get a set amount for ourselves to spend on literally anything we want, as long as it is within the allotted amount.
Before you can determine how much money you will allot to each of these sections of your budget, you need to think through your money goals. Ask yourself “what do I want to do with my money?” Do you want to pay off debt, buy a house, remodel, buy a car, go on vacations, build a savings account, invest in retirement, invest in kids’ college?
Your goals will help you align your money more toward what you want to happen and pull it away from the “leeches” holding you back. Maybe having all the tv streaming platforms isn’t actually that important to you and you free up $25 a month there, you don’t need the new iPhone so there’s $50 a month, you can settle for a 3 year old car instead of brand new, that’s $175 a month. Boom, you’ve already cleared up $250 a month to move from things you don’t REALLY love to things you DO. $250 a month for a year is $3000.
Cody and I decided our goals were to pay off our debt, save for traveling, invest in our retirement, and give generously. So we aligned our budget away from eating out at restaurants, going to coffee shops, getting new clothes every month, and furnishing our house right after buying it. By limiting these areas, along with stopping our (Cody’s) impulse purchases, we were able to pay off school and my car within a year because we aligned our money habits to meet our money goals.
Now that we are down to just the house payment and my car, we already feel so much more free! We couldn’t have done it without a budget because the budget told us where our money could and could not go. It didn’t strip us of our fun, it limited it to a healthy amount. We set up our budget to be aggressive toward our debt because we saw how our debt was eating a huge portion of our income and we wanted to end that pattern quickly, so we ended up giving up the unlimited spending for a while. But that helped us realize that too much of a good thing can be unhealthy and that’s what happens to so many of us: we buy things to satisfy that desire for more things.
In college, the only thing Cody learned in Econ before he dropped the class was that humans want ONE THING….more. That really stuck with me…Until we’re satisfied with what we have, we will become slaves to our wallets.
I’ve been saying this so much lately: it’s so much easier to react to situations when you decide how to handle them ahead of time. That means it’s easier to say no to going out to dinner when you already decided you don’t have it in the budget. It’s easy to decide you can buy one
$40 throw pillow and not 6 because you’ve got $60 in your “fun money” budget.
Another goal we have is to travel. We love to travel and that’s a big thing we want to try to do at least once a year. Cody and I make sure to plan our traveling in a way that doesn’t cost us a ton of money but also lets us enjoy our experiences. We went on a 3,600 mile road trip in 2019 and we ate a lot of pb&j’s, chips, and granola bars instead of eating out for every meal. That saved us a few hundred dollars!
Having these financial goals helps us to set up our budget in a way that ensures we are actually moving towards what we want to see happen in our lives. So now that you know what we consider when we are making our budget, let’s get into some of the more practical tips you can use to start your own movement forward with your money!
How to Make Your Own Budget
Step One: Make Money Goals
Like we said earlier, your budget will align your money to meet certain goals. If you don’t have goals you will most likely give up on budgeting because there’s not much of a reason for it. If you are trying to pay school off or save for a down payment on a house or save for a vacation, those things will help you find purpose following your budget. Sit down and think about what you want to do with your money and write it down!
Step Two: Build a Budget or Money Plan
We build a new budget each month because our budget isn’t scribed in stone from the day we start it. While building the budget, we look ahead to our month and see what’s in our schedule. Irregular expenses like city water bill, 6 or 12 month car insurance premiums and things like that need to be factored in so they don’t surprise you when they show up. Also, events or trips can be factored in as well. We go on two annual trips every year and the month they come up, we set aside money for the lodging and food. When we all go out to a restaurant, we know not to buy steak and crab legs and a drink and dessert every time. We go with delicious options that are more affordable and help our food allotment last us the whole trip. Like we said, it’s easier to react in the moment when you’ve already made the decision ahead of time. You can check out the resource we use to build our budget Every Dollar for some more examples!
Step Three: Schedule Regular Money Meetings Together
You get lost when you don’t look at the map. Cody is the main person who checks up on the budget during the week to track our expenses but I am always included when anything new arises. We try to meet weekly to look over everything because that helps refresh our mindset and purpose behind the budget. Actually the first time we made a budget, our goals fizzled out and we didn’t change our spending habits because we didn’t look at our road map very often. By revisiting the budget often, it will guide you to meet your goals and help you continue to be aligned financially!
Step Four: Don’t Neglect Your FUN MONEY
Cody and I debated this one when we started getting strict with our budget, but really decided that if we were going to tighten all our money down without any room for little fun purchases, we’d probably grow sour to the idea and throw in the towel. You NEED some money to play around with so you can buy something that brings you a little joy! It’s hobby money, gift money, and basically whatever you want money. It’s so you can have fun but also learn to limit your fun spending. Eventually, when your goals are met, you’re going to have much more freed up wealth to manage and you’ll be prepared to handle it wisely!
Step Five: Dream of What Life Could Look Like When You Are Financially Free!
A big goal of ours is to pay off our house ASAP! We have seen how free we feel with school paid off and how that amplified when we paid off Cody’s car. Cody and I want to keep the ball rolling until we don’t owe anyone anything. We dream of the first month after we sent our last mortgage check! We dream of the traveling we’ll be able to do. We dream of the ways we’ll get to bless people when we have no financial obligations other than the essentials. And overall we dream of the freedom we’ll feel when what we earn we keep. So that’s why we are a little crazy right now, because the result is worth getting a little wild for!!
Dreaming about your financial future and talking about those dreams can help you both to stay on the same page and be motivated to continue to crush your financial goals!!
How Money Unity Has Affected Our Marriage
Before we had our spending habits, money goals, and budget laid out, we were both on two separate pages with money. We were so not unified and it was affecting how we interacted sometimes. Cody was afraid to tell Andrea he bought something, whether it was for the both of us or just himself.
I was frustrated that Cody would spend money on things that we didn’t need and I wasn’t buying anything for myself! There was a root being sown deep in both of us that would eventually drive us further apart from one another in more than just topics of money.
Since we’ve been on the same page and make money a frequent topic in our relationship, we have seen intimacy grow because there isn’t this tension and secret emotions about one another regarding money. We believe marriage is about becoming unified in all areas of marriage, not meaning that you don’t ever disagree, but that you don’t let disagreements go unresolved. Money was so hard to talk about for us. It was uncomfortable and for me it was hard to give up my fun spending habits. But the trust, intimacy, and financial strength we’ve built because of addressing this topic far surpasses having new things every week.
Bringing It All Together
Money is essential for most of us to survive, it is a powerful tool allowing you to achieve big things in life, and when managed well can eliminate stress and anxiety from the unknowns. As we wrap up, we just want to encourage you all to sit down together and talk about money. Whether it’s something you do already or it’s a rocky topic, it is so important that you two as a couple are on the same page with money. Take some time and discuss your current money situation. Dream up what you want your lives to look like, what are your money goals? Then create a budget and align all the extra money to match up with your goals and stick with it regularly.
Our Suggested Resources
Cody and I have taken a lot of advice from a man named Dave Ramsey who has a worldwide business about money management. We highly recommend his resources to everyone who feels like they don’t have a good handle on their money because he’s got it all covered. We use Ramsey’s budgeting app called EveryDollar because it is easy to track your debit or credit card transactions either on your computer or on your phone. It also has a tab breaking down the percentages of your income you should alot for different items, like groceries, clothing, housing, etc. He also offers books and online resources for helping you learn how to break your poor money habits and become much more financially strong. We are not sponsored by Dave, we just have seen how growing in our financial literacy has impacted our marriage and we want that same transformation for you!
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