Friday, July 23, 2010

My Two Cents On Budgeting: Finances And Our Marriage

Welcome to the last installment in my budgeting series!

To celebrate the end of my first blog series (and also that I made it through), I'll be doing a giveaway here on my blog. So come back next week for more details!

Today my husband and I will be sharing our unique perspectives on finances in regards to our marriage. As you have probably heard and if you are married, you most likely know first-hand, finances can be a major source of frustration in marriage.

Well, we are no different.

As can be expected, my husband and I are as different as night and day. We are complete opposites in almost every sense of the word. On the temperament scale, we are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Literally. I am almost as introverted as they come and he is very extroverted. I'm a planner and he is spontaneous. Me? I have to plan to be spontaneous."How about next Sunday at 4 o'clock?"

When it comes to money, I am the saver and he is the spender. Oh boy. This in and of itself can cause a whole host of problems and it has at times. We aren't perfect and we certainly don't have this whole marriage thing figured out yet.

But today, we're going to share a little about where we were when we first got married and where we are now and a few resources and tips that have helped us tremendously in this area.

Budgeting Then:
His: I know how much money I make. I know how much money I can spend. I don't need to write anything down in my checkbook register. It's all in my head. Besides, if I forget I can go online and look at it. Plus, that's what that overdraft protection thing is for, right? And receipts, who needs receipts? This is precisely why I was always having to start over at $0. I never kept track of expenses on paper. I always thought I could remember exactly how much money I had left. And as long as I had money left, I was good to go!

Hers: I read many books on finances and took it all to heart. I was determined to keep track of every cent we spent and save every receipt. Our budget would run like a well-oiled machine and we would be as frugal as possible. I was so worried about doing this the right way that it was extremely stressful and I would have a melt-down every time I sat down to pay the bills. I had no idea that some people (namely, my new husband!) did not record their purchases in their checkbook register regularly. I also didn't know why anyone would need overdraft protection - that was for irresponsible people, wasn't it?

Budgeting Now:
His: WOW! I never knew how much freedom there could be in actually tracking your money dollar by dollar. When we first got married it irritated me that she had to know where every dollar went. I thought she was trying to keep tabs on me. And for a free spirited person, that is a PROBLEM! Nobody, and I mean nobody was going to tell me what to do with my money. But, as we've worked together on OUR money, not my money and her money, I really have found freedom.  She does a great job of keeping track of things. And we're able to communicate clearly on what we do and don't have and what we do and don't need.  If we don't have the money, we don't have the money. And that's really OK now. Also categorizing things has made a huge difference. To me it all used to be just money in one big pot. Now we have food money, haircut money, gasoline money and my personal favorite... FUN MONEY!! The categories have helped to shape my perspective on how it all fits together.

Hers: Thankfully, I've relaxed a bit over the past few years. We love our budget/spending plan and it has been so helpful to us. However, it's a guide. Some months we go over budget a little in some areas and it's ok. I'm learning that spending money and paying bills is just a part of life and I'm not a failure when we don't have oodles leftover at the end of budget. Knowing who it all belongs to and being thankful for what He has provided has really helped me in this regard. I've also learned it's ok to budget and plan for fun. Life is serious but it's ok to cut yourself a little slack and do something fun every once in a while!

Saving Then:
His:  Saving, schmaving! Money is there to be spent, right? Why else would you have it? Retirement, PSSHHH, I'm young. I've got years to think about that.

Hers: Again, I had read many books on finances and took it all to heart. If the book said we should save x% then we were going to do that! If a friend, family member or neighbor's cousin saved x amount then I thought we should too. We had made the decision early on to live on one income and save mine, which was very helpful. 

Saving Now:
His: Again, WOW!! Not only can I live within a budget, but when something unexpected comes up, I've got something to fall back on. Car needs new tires, no problem. Forgot a Christmas gift, piece of cake. I also understand the importance of not dipping into the savings day after day. But, it is quite freeing to know it is there when you need it. Also, categories my friends, categories!!!

Hers: Saving is good and wise but should not be my sole purpose in life. We set goals and then try to fulfill them. But we have to do it in a way that works for us, not everyone else on the planet.

Giving Then: (This refers to all giving not just tithing.)
His: If I ever had money left over, it was yours! You tell me you need a tank of gas, here's a twenty! You're a little short on your impending car payment, here's a hundred. Knock yourself out! I thought everyone was like that.

Hers: We had already made the commitment to tithing regularly. I was fine with giving extra as long as it was planned for. I discover my new husband is extremely generous with everything he has... a little irritating sometimes.

Giving Now:
His: I have learned the importance of some planned giving.  If you know something is coming up in six months that you'll be able to assist with, take that six months and plan for what you can give, THEN, work on that plan until you have accumulated what is needed. A little planning never hurts, go figure.  Fortunately for me there are also those times when you have to decide instantaneously if you should give. You know, that still, small voice saying... "Here's your chance to help. Go ahead." I still love those.

Hers: Sometimes the Holy Spirit impresses on us to give and we have the choice to either obey or ignore His command. Seeing my husband's generosity and willingness to give and share with others from giving money, food and household items, or even inviting others into our home for a meal and fellowship has impacted my life and made me less stingy and self-centered. We still plan for some giving that we do at certain times each year but are still learning to be flexible so that we can follow the Spirit's leading, too. God's desires don't always coincide with our schedules and plans!

Some basic tips that we've found very helpful in our marriage:

  • Communication. Talk about finances and make decisions together.
  • Know your individual strengths. I do the bulk of the budgeting and bill paying since I'm more of a detail person. Andy keeps track of everything online which is something  that drives me nuts!
  • Togetherness. We are very much in favor of joint finances. Instead of 'his' and 'hers', it's 'ours'. Our problems, our money, our this and that. This seeps into other areas of marriage as well and helps to counteract some of the natural tendencies toward selfishness that we all have and encourages us to work together towards solutions.
Resources we recommend:
  1. Dave Ramsey. We love him! Many of the financial decisions we have made have been based on what we've read in his books or heard on his radio program. His strategies have been so helpful to our spender/saver marriage. 
  2. Crown Financial Ministries. Good financial advice from a Christian perspective. 
  3. Ron Blue. More good financial advice.
  4. Dollar Stretcher and Bank Rate.com.
Tune in next week for a fun giveaway! 

**This post is a part of Frugal Fridays!

7 comments:

Denise said...

Wonderful that your husband shared his prospective on finances. Have you already picked a topic for your next series, I think you did a great job with this one.

Wendi said...

I was laughing when I read how your hubby didn't record things in his checkbook. Chuck use to stack all of his recipts in his checkbook and keep a "mental" tally of his balance. I found that very scary! Once we were married I took care of the checkbook. Great series!

Olivia said...

This sounds A LOT like my hubby and me! I had to let go a bit (okay, a lot!) and he had to take charge!

Rhonda said...

this sounds a lot my hubby and me too

I am so glad we have all matured with our money styles.

PS I really enjoyed your tomato posts too, just have been too busy this week to do any commenting until now

Lyn said...

Men and women can be so different when it comes to money. I liked you both sharing your perspectives in this post, that was fun to read.

Communication I find is #1 - if you don't communicate, things can go badly very quickly.

Mary Ann said...

Thanks Denise! Glad you enjoyed it. I would love to do another series but don't have a topic as of yet. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Mary Ann said...

Wendi,

That is so funny! I remember how the calendar on his checkbook register was at least 5 years out of date. I was appalled...:-0