June 24, 2012

Getting Real: Marrying Budgets

Blogger challenge #5: get real--as in fess up to something. So, here it is: I'm bad not good with money. Where does this come from? I have no idea. It's not from my upbringing--my single mother was incredibly frugal and a responsible role model. Maybe it's because I grew up in Hawaii, where residents rank #2 for highest average debt (second to California, with a $7,987 debt per person)--have you seen Ala Moana Shopping Mall?! Just being there makes me want to max out all my credit cards! Here's a picture of my closet:

And that doesn't include the two dressers I have stuffed full of clothes. So what? I enjoy shopping. A lot. Brett and I have an insane amount of interests and loves in common: funny movies, traveling, reading, going out with our friends, types of music and TV shows, food, plans for our lives, etc. BUT! We have one HUGE difference: spending money. Or, rather, him: saving money and me: spending it.

For the record, this is Brett's closet:

He also uses ONE drawer in one of "my" dressers. The boy is disciplined--and so tidy too! He recently "splurged" on three pairs of shorts (moving from Seattle to North Carolina means he gets to wear shorts for the first time in four years) and he felt so guilty about it, I heard "I can't believe I bought three pairs of shorts," for two weeks straight.

Brett understands that I'm a (super girly-girl) girl, which means I have more types of clothing, like bras and skirts and pumps and sandals and maxi dresses. Women need options. We also need makeup, hair tools, hair appointments, lash fills, pedicures, bags, jewelry, face creams... the list is infinite. He gallantly makes lots of room for these feminine wiles now that our budget is shared. There, I've said it. That dirty, ugly word: budget. *shudder*

Coming from a job like bartending, where cash monay was always at hand, to no job and graduate school, makes it particularly difficult to rein in the spending. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. My efficient, super resourceful, and financially savvy husband is whipping my butt into gear. I'm held accountable for everything, we keep a Mint.com account, paid off and cancelled all but two credit cards (don't ask) only one of which I still use (minimally), and we have frequent money talks. Yes, it's totally uncomfortable for me to talk about money, but you know what makes it better? When we go from "You can't spend money on clothes," to "You don't want to spend money on clothes because we're going to NYC in the fall." Gosh, it makes such a difference in my mentality! And money/spending/saving is a favorite topic of Husband's so I'm going to have to get over my timidity.

So, here are our marriage-friendly financial tips, when one's a saver and the other is a spender:

  • Use Mint.com or some other financial organizer that tracks your spending
  • Talk about your budget. We make it a less scary time by doing it over beers outside on a sunny afternoon
  • Make a worksheet with questions like "How old would you like to be when you  and your spouse retire?" and answer them together, on said sunny patio with a beer in hand
  • Practice give and take
  • Don't give up the date nights! There are such things as cheap, fun dates. We recently discovered a free admission art museum in Raleigh and it was awesome! Farmers/Flea markets, bike rides, picnics or simple walks around the neighborhood are so underrated!
  • Don't buy extravagant gifts for each other. Wouldn't you rather go on vacation during spring break than get another iPad? And anyway, when you restrict yourself to gift budgets, you're forced to be more creative and end up getting better presents anyway!
  • Cook together. Not only do you spend less on meals, but you get to spend quality time with your favorite person. Some of our best conversations are over cooking, then eating, dinner together
  • Plan for the future--trips, homes, babies--and start saving now. It gives you a goal and something to look forward to
  • We can't wait til I'm earning a salary so we can "spend one, save the other" of our dual incomes
  • Cut back on the extras: do you need HBO? Can you bring home lunch to work/school? Brew your own coffee in the morning and skip the $4 Starbucks capp. You do not need to buy that issue of US Weekly. Go here instead
  • Make a grocery list and don't stray from it!
  • Stick to your budget diligently
  • Be honest, work as a team, and keep an open mind

So while I'm still working on bottling the urge of buying a new outfit (or four) every weekend, I have made real progress thanks to Husband's loving and gentle guidance. It helps to have someone understanding in your corner. He'll make me into a savvy financier yet!  :)

Please feel free to share some of your money-saving tips too! I hope you have a wonderful week--it's the last week of my community pharmacy rotation, it went by so quickly! Thank you for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I'd share some money-saving tips but since we're being real here - I've got none. Thanks for sharing yours though! Definitely have to take them into consideration. Like how I "don't need to spend money at the local boutiques because I'm going on a trip in the fall".

    ♥ Duckie.


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