Monday, January 12, 2015

Marriage Tip #8

Marriage and Money. Two very strong "M" words that I know I have shared on before, but they are so powerful that they are definitely worth revisiting. Zach and I are in the process of going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, which if you haven't heard of it, or done it, I highly recommend, even if you are in a good place financially.

Therefore, my eighth marriage tip is centered around marriage and money. Get yourself on a budget, even if it's only for a little time.

We have learned so many things by doing this program together. It's allowed us to realize we are not the only ones who have a "spender" and a "saver" in the relationship, and that in fact, that's usually how it goes, and we balance each other out.

We have learned practical ways to save money, start paying off our debt, and how to communicate about our finances in a way that makes sense to both of us. We play off each other's strengths. For example, I love details and spreadsheets, and I happen to be the planner, and the "saver" mentality. For me, doing the budget every month and tracking it in a spreadsheet is fun. Yes, I'm a nerd.

One really practical thing that we have learned, implemented and found incredibly helpful to our marriage is using the "envelope" system. I'm sure that even if you haven't heard of Dave Ramsey, you might have a general idea of what the envelope system is. 

The truth that we have learned is that cash does in fact hurt more to spend than swiping a card. It makes you pause and think through your decisions together more. So Zach and I decided last fall to start using the envelope system for certain categories of our spending.

We use it for things like our tithing and saving, for gas money, groceries (this is probably the biggest area that helps reduce excess spending that you might not even know you're doing), saving for certain payments, and saving for certain other things throughout the year.

Honestly, I was excited to see how it worked in our marriage, but hesitant, too. From what I have heard over the years and from many other married couples is that finances can be a huge stressor on marriage if you don't come into agreement and communicate about it.

Being able to have a budget, come together and discuss your common financial goals and ideas, put it down on paper and literally see your cash going to those certain places is very relieving and very freeing. You would think that it might tighten things up, but it's the exact opposite. It has freed up our cash flow, and we are telling our money where to go, instead of wondering where it all went at the end of the month.

If you haven't ever tried a budget, there are so many tools online that can guide you and help you. If you want specifically to know about the envelope system, I believe you can even look up some tools through Dave Ramsey's website, or you can contact me and ask me some questions as well.

The biggest thing is to get on the same page as your spouse about money. Even if things are tight, by communicating and working together through the financial issues, you open the doors for more grace and teamwork, instead of becoming divided and defensive. Take a little bit of time this week, get outside your comfort zone and have a conversation with your spouse about finances and open that communication up!

What about you? Do you already have a budget in place with your spouse? What methods have you found have helped you with marriage and finances? I would love to hear from you! 

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