Friends! This past few weeks has been kicking my bootay! This whole being sick And being pregnant is no joke. I got worked over. But I’m back to feeling good again and trucking’ along again. But it’s also been a long time since I’ve done a personal post, so I’d love to let you in on what I’ve been learning lately.
Finances are a hot button for many people. It’s a very private topic for many of us. We don’t tend to go around announcing how much money we make or how much debt we’re in either. We have strange emotions surrounding our relationships with money. Pride, shame, greed, envy. It’s no wonder Jesus taught on this topic even more than he did the topic of love or grace. And it’s no surprise, really that finances are one of the biggest struggles that face couples. Tony and I are no exception.
I have always prided myself on living very frugally and being good at saving when I put my mind to it. But getting married changes things….. like EVERYTHING! “My” money is now “our” money and how each of us spends that money affects the other. Since before Tony and I got married I wanted to do a family budget, but when your income is as fluctuating as ours is, it’s really hard to do that. I mean, budgeting is hard anyway, but how do you do it when you don’t know how much you will make every month? So we decided to enroll in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, a 9 week course on finances. It’s been a really really great experience. It has forced up to sit down and make a budget, and then actually live within it. We decide how much we are going to spend on groceries and eating out and entertainment every month. We decide together. And what a difference it makes to be on the same page. To have a plan and to be working toward the same goal. To not disagree over whether or not we have the money to go out to eat. If there’s money in the “Eating Out” envelope, we can go out. If not, Tony has to… gets to eat my cooking once again. 🙂 It’s given us, well me at least, a sense of freedom… in a restricting sort of way.
But the living on a budget part isn’t all that new for me. If the money’s not there, or even if I’m worried that it might not be there, I’m really good at going into lock down mode. You ain’t gettin’ anything extra! Not even a Slurpee! We may or may not have actually argued over Slurpees. More than once. True story.
The having a plan part of this system is certainly valuable, but that’s not what I’ve found to be the most valuable part of all of this. It’s the understanding my husband better that has been hugely transformational for me. You see… (spoiler alert) my husband and I are different. Whaaaaaaat? Shocking, I know. But I’ve learned recently that even the way we dream is different. For instance, I love to travel. I would love to do more of that. But unless I know the funds are there and planning a trip is actually a possibility in the near future, the thought pretty much stops there. Or say I’m having one of those weeks (or months) where I hate everything in my closet. If I know we don’t have the money to buy new clothes, I will steer clear of any and all clothing stores, even the clothing section at Target. It’s kinda out of site, out of mind for me.
Tony is the complete opposite. For instance, he likes shoes. OK, he LOOOOOOVES shoes. And socks. So occasionally he will go to Nordstrom Rack to peruse the shoe section. It’s true! If my man is having a bad day, he will actually go out just to look at shoes. And motorcycles. He’s very well rounded that way. The thing is, in the time I’ve known him, he has probably done this at least 15 times. That I know of. But you know what? I have yet to see him buy a pair of shoes. He just likes to look and dream, even if he knows he can’t buy those $250 shoes that feel amazing on his feet. I think that’s so funny! For me, that would be torture and I would probably leave the store pouting and worse off than when I got there.
One of the things that used to bother me sometimes is when he would talk about buying a quad. And a Porsche. I’m thinking, “Dude! We’re worrying about having enough to pay our bills and you’re talking about buying toys? Really? With what money? And where are you going to ride it? And when? And with who?” I saw it as immature. It sounded almost irresponsible to me. But as we were talking one day recently, something he said changed my view completely. He told me that he knows it will probably be several years before he might be able to buy a quad, but he needs to have that possibility open in his mind. He needs something to look forward to. To dream toward. He’s realistic about it, even though it sounded like he wanted to go out tomorrow and buy one. Most importantly, it’s the fulfillment of a promise he made to himself over 15 years ago. Who am I to kill that dream? I want to support his dreams, not squash it with a dose of reality every time he talks about it.
This process is changing the way we spend money, which I will talk more about in further blog posts. But more than that, the process is changing me. And that, my friends, is priceless.