Today my wife and I have been married for seven years! It is crazy to think that it has been that long. Really it has only felt like a few years.
I still can’t believe we had this guy officiate our wedding.
Yes, that is Andrew, the other half of Wallet Squirrel.
In those seven years, a lot has happened in our lives. We both graduated college and actually both of us will have our Master’s degree by the end of this July. After my wife graduated from her undergrad program we decided to move out to Colorado. Here we explored the mountains, drank beer, and seen what Denver’s restaurant scene has to offer. I jumped around a few different jobs. Then we bought a house and had a kid.
For me personally, one of the biggest changes in my life since getting married is the way I look at money. This is of course besides having a kid and owning a house. 😀
My wife and I came from two completely different backgrounds as to how we looked at money. Really they were opposites. My wife’s family did not have much money so she grew up in an environment learning how to be frugal. I grew up in a family that was well off financially so I did not develop those frugal habits.
You will notice a lot of “We’s” in this article. This is because marriage is a true team effort. To be successful, there is no her and I, there is only we and us.
Open communication is one of the most important things a marriage needs to be a successful team in every aspect, including financially. When we first got married, I just took control of the finances. I had access to all of the accounts and my wife did not. This was not a good choice since I was the one with horrible spending habits.
After about 18 months I finally realized the mistakes I have made. I needed to bring my wife into the picture. We started having discussions on how we could make things better. Some thoughts included making sure she was always up to date with our financial numbers. I also needed to slow down before making purchases to talk to her about it. Because of these talks, she was able to help me realize how frivolous the purchase was.
This open communication immediately started decreasing our monthly spending.
It really is amazing what you can accomplish when you set aside your own pride and understand that your spouse is on your team, not against you. Once you realize this the door opens for healthy communication and teamwork.
I always had this stigma that budgets were a weight to restrain you from ever doing anything. This might be why we originally did not have a budget for the first bit of our marriage.
Because of this, I had no idea where money was going or any sense of how much we were really spending on gas every month.
Most of you are probably cringing at that thought.
Once I started to see our savings go down and our credit card bill climb, I decided to see where all of the money was going. Starting a budget was actually really easy by using Mint.
Budgeting actually relieved a lot of stress for us. Not only did we start to see our finances stabilize almost instantly, we also were able to start tackling our credit card debt. I quickly learned that budgets are not restraining, they actually free you. They give you the freedom to spend a particular amount of money, guilt-free!
As I mentioned, I came into our marriage with some horrible spending habits thinking that I just could go out and buy what I needed. There was no budget. There was just an open spigot of free spending for whatever I thought we needed.
This allowed for a downward spiral of finances when we first moved to Denver. We started to gain some credit card debt and our savings diminished.
It was not a good time.
After 18 months of this trend, we started taking control of our money, together. Using the above communication methods, my wife supported me as I worked on changing my habits.
We tackled the credit card debt that I allowed to get out of control. Then we were able to save up $20,000 in six months for a down payment on a house. That was an amazing accomplishment! Then last summer we tackled our car loan by paying off the last $7,000 in only three months.
Watch out student loans, we are coming for you!
With our backgrounds, my wife was great at saving and I was horrible at it. To be honest, we should have been able to buy a house a couple years before we actually did. This would have saved us a lot of money in the crazy housing market in Denver.
Because I was not good at budgeting or saving this did not happen. We have some catching up to do but I believe we can get there with the right mindset.
Whoever said marriage is easy, they lied. It is really hard. Now, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get easier with practice and open communication.
For us, when we first moved in with each other after getting married, it was hard to get on the same page. We actually never had a fight until we in together but good communication and remembering that we are on the same team helped us get through those growing pains.
Not everyone is perfect. My wife was willing to help me change my bad financial habits. I am grateful for her and her patience.
As you might have noticed, all of these lessons learned stack right on top of each other. Without communication, we could not have set up a proper budget which helped me learn better spending habits which in turn allowed us to save more.
The statement, “Behind every man, there is a great woman.” couldn’t be truer in my situation. My wife has been amazingly supportive as we work on bettering my poor financial habits. Even though it was slow, we are now on the right track to financial freedom.
The moral of this story is if you are struggling with your finances, find a supportive person or group to help you through. It doesn’t have to be a wife. It can be a family member, a good friend, or a group of people that share the same goals as you.
Having that support will help you grow and stay accountable.