Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Frugal Missus Journals: Marriage and Money

After each video lesson in Financial Peace University (FPU), we are given a to-do list that we must complete before we have access to the next lesson. Part of our to-do list is to start a journal. In the program, there is an application for a journal, but both being bloggers, Frugal Mister and I decided to use this blog as our outlet. Lucky you!

We're given 3 questions to answer in our journals. I figure it'll keep us honest and focused as to what this blog is about if we answer at least one of them here.

So, let us begin!

If you are married, describe how you and your spouse traditionally communicate about money. Do you fight about it? Do you ever talk about money at all? Do you have written goals for your income?

When Frugal Mister and I were going to get married, we had pre-marital conversation with the priest who would be marrying us. As a jumping off point for these sessions, we individually took tests that assessed various facets of life that are come with marriage (communication, money, sex, family, etc). Using the results, we were able to have serious conversations about what our future could possibly hold in regards to those matters. To be general, we scored 100% on the Communication portion of the test. That is, we answered the questions exactly the same.Needlesstosay, we very rarely "fight", and when we do, it's typically about household chores, not money.

However, on the Money portion of the test, we scored LOW. I mean... LOW. (I don't remember the actual percentage because it was 5+ years ago, but I want to say it was 10%). We were on such different pages back then, it was pathetic. At that time, Frugal Mister had been stable in his career for a number of years with a good grasp on budgeting using Quicken Software. Sure, we both had some bad habits (like using credit cards far too often), but at least he paid his bills on time! I had a LOT of learning to do!

So, I defaulted to Frugal Mister keeping track of our finances. He says it relaxes him, but I still don't see how because every "cha-ching!" I hear ring out of the computer when he's using Quicken makes my heart speed. I suppose that is a residual effect of us having vastly different views of money. He has Faith, I have Fear.

For the 4.5 years of our marriage, money isn't talked about too much. Yes, I brought up principles Dave Ramsey talks about before I knew there was a Dave, but we never did anything about it. We were "happy" living paycheck to paycheck. Well, we were glad to make the bills, to have our nice toys, and for me to be able to stay home with our children. I shouldn't say not making progress on our debt made us happy, by any stretch, but it was easier to deal with when we knew we could keep the lights on, so to speak.

By using Dave's principles, I have found us being much more open with our money; where it has gone and where we want it to go. Frugal Mister has always budgeted out a month or two so we could keep an eye on our spending (him on video games, me on groceries). If we knew we'd have the bills paid and had $1000 in the account, we were doing pretty darn good! If we only had $500, he'd tell me, "watch the spending", but it wasn't specific as to what we were overspending on. I hope having our written budget each month will help us know where we're overspending from one month to the next. For example, so far, I am $13 over in my grocery budget with an entire week to have to buy for! My menu for next week will have to reflect that overage. We'll eat less expensive meals and I'll raid my freezer meals to make up the difference. I actually don't think it's too bad of an overage, considering we didn't start this journey until July 15! I look forward to seeing how our numbers reflect our hard work at the end of August!

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