Filed under: Life Stage LessonsWhen my husband popped the question and I said yes, we saw it as nothing more than a deep commitment to each other. It was the most meaningful way we knew to express that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. It was all about love.
But once we were married, we realized there was much more to marriage than just loving the other person. We had to pick out an apartment together. Buy furniture together. Grocery shop together. We were put in situations with each other that allowed our personalities to really shine through. And we learned a little something: We were two very different people.
Never did this fact become clearer than when we approached spending money together. I kept my life stress-free by not worrying about costs or prices when I shopped. If I liked it and had the money, I bought it. My husband, Johnny, kept his life stress-free by analyzing and reanalyzing costs until he found the best deal. We were at extreme ends of the spending spectrum, and we were desperate to find some middle ground before our newlywed bliss became blissless.
Budgeting Creates Our Path for Future Bliss
We finally found one thing we both agreed on wholeheartedly: what we wanted for our future. And we realized that had to create a budget if we wanted to reach our goals. There'd be no more "he says" or "she says," just "the budget says." Here's what worked best for us.
- Compromising. We worked on our budget together. It wasn't one person telling the other person what to do. Giving every dollar a name required compromise and lots of trial and error.
- Goal setting. We set specific financial goals. We both wanted to become debt-free, but we needed a plan to get there. We decided how much debt we wanted to have paid down by the end of the month, by the end of six months, by the end of a year. Our big goal was to retire our combined $20,000 in debt in less than two years, all while saving money for retirement and a rainy day.
- Keeping track. Even after we created a budget, there was still the matter of sticking to it. And we did that by tracking every cent. As soon as we spent money, we wrote it down to enter into a spreadsheet later. These were the days before nifty budgeting apps, and we weren't perfect, but we were consistent, which was the key to our success.