When Dan and I got together, we came from extremely different financial backgrounds. Dan had really never been taught anything about money or budgeting, while I had grown up listening to Larry Burkett with my very thrifty parents. While we were still engaged, Dan handed me his checkbook with all the checks signed and told me that I was going to need to take care of the finances once we got married.
Fast forward several years- I had been solely in charge of the finances. Occassionally, Dan would want to buy something, but he didn’t understand why- if he just got paid- we didn’t have the money for a big purchase. I would try to show him the checkbook and explain that the mortgage and bills had come out of that check, but usually, we both ended up mad at each other.
I remember feeling so frustrated. I wanted us to be on the same page financially, but I just didn’t know how to get Dan on board. I prayed that God would give Dan a desire to be involved in our finances, because I was feeling a lot of stress by it being my responsibility alone- and I knew that fighting with him wouldn’t make him want to be involved, it needed to be something he decided to involve himself in if it was going to work in the long term. Around the time Miss Magoo was born, I started listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio. I would have it on whenever Dan got in the car. And after a little while, he started listening to it on his own.
Suddenly one day, about 6 years into our marriage, Dan dropped a bomb on me. “I want to start doing a budget,” he said. I should have been rejoicing- but you want to know the truth? I resented it. I was mad that suddenly he was telling me how to manage something that was mine. It took me a few months, but one day I suddenly had a revelation: this was an answer to my prayers, and instead of rejoicing, I was cursing it! I felt like such a fool, and resolved to be thankful that Dan wanted to be involved, and that we could be united in this.
After a bit of trial and error, we finally found our groove and figured out how to budget as a team. I know the word “budget” has some seriously negative connotations for most people, but it doesn’t have to be a cuss word. Instead, it can be something that unites you and your spouse.
We now have “budget meetings” at the beginning of each month where we figure out our budget together. We both have equal say in where our money goes, and we both equally understand the bills we’ve paid the month before and our financial situation. This has alleviated a lot of my stress, and helps me to know that if anything happened to me, Dan would be able to pay the bills without (many) problems.
Getting on the same page financially has also helped us to get out of debt and start taking control of our finances instead of letting them control us. Once we started setting financial goals together, we both got kind of excited with what we could do- and we both realized it would be worth the sacrifices. Sure, we would like go out to dinner more often, but what if instead of going out to dinner we put that money on our student loans? Or on the hospital bills for having a baby? Or what if we saved up that money and then went and paid cash for a vehicle, so we wouldn’t be tied to a car payment?
By working together, we have been able to conquer our finances. And you know what? It’s made our marriage stronger than it ever was before.
So if taking control of your finances, spending less money, or creating a budget are part of your New Year’s resolutions, come back on Thursday to learn how to make a budget that will work. In the meantime, get together a list of your bills and expenses, so you’ll be ready to join me on this journey to being financially free!
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