I’ll never forget the first time my husband told me he had received an overdraft fee on his checking account. We were dating, not yet engaged, and as we were having lunch and talking about work, he casually mentioned that he had been charged an overdraft fee.
I almost choked on my sandwich.
I tried to play it off cool, as if overdraft fees were not a cardinal sin in my book. I’ve made my career in the world of banking and I studied accounting in college, so finances are a big deal to me. Overdraft fees were a major no-no, and I hoped that surely it was a mistake.
After we got engaged we had that awkward, “How much money do you make and how much do you have in your account” conversation. I learned that my soon-to-be-husband was making more than twice what I was, yet he was surprised to learn that my savings account had ten times more than his.
Of course, over our time together, I began noticing how he never looked at the price tag on anything. He’d just pick something up, swipe his card, and not blink an eye.
I, on the other hand, did price comparisons on every purchase I made and was sure to use a coupon if I had one. “A penny saved was a penny earned,” and I had well learned how to live on a shoestring budget.
He, however, was completely fine living paycheck to paycheck.
I knew our financial perspectives did not align, and I wanted to be sure that we entered into marriage on the same page. After all, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is ours”—debt included.
They say finances are one of the leading causes for divorce. The world revolves around money, so we’ve got to have it. We’ve also got to spend it. And when two people get married, we vow that we will commit to one another for richer or poorer.
So what happens when the saver and the spender unite? Is it possible to come to a financial agreement and peacefully join that part of your lives? You bet it is! From a saver and a spender who’ve been there, we’ve got a few tips for you.
Budget may be a four-letter word in your vocabulary, but nothing will get you headed in the same direction better than a budget. Oftentimes we don’t even realize how much we’re spending or where we’re spending it, as debit cards and credit cards take the consciousness out of purchases.
A couple of months after we got married, we sat down and calculated our monthly expenses. We compared that to our income and decided together what we would do with the excess. We made a plan to quickly pay off any debt, we started a vacation fund, and we put the rest into savings. Having an intentional plan for our money helped us to stay focused and on track. And we decided that if we ever needed to make a not-in-the-budget, large purchase over $100, we would run it past the other before swiping that card.
Recognize your strengths and weaknesses.
It was a no-brainer who would be the one to manage our accounts. (And notice that I keep saying ours. Joint checking accounts are a must. Keeping money separated, or a secret, can certainly create some trust issues.) Money management is my strength, and my husband was willing to let me manage that part of our lives. He trusted that I would pay the bills on time and keep our checkbook balanced.
Eating out for lunch is my husband’s weakness. He works hard every day, and he needs a good lunch to keep him powered. My frustrations began to mount as I saw how much he was spending on lunch…and snacks.
We reverted to our childhood days and decided that we would each get a monthly allowance to spend however we wanted. This helped us to stay on budget and prevented unnecessary conflict. He could spend his allowance as quickly as he wanted, and I could save mine for as long as I pleased.
My dad always says, “It’s just money, you’ll make more if it tomorrow.” And it is true. If you’re like me, and nothing makes you happier than seeing your account balance grow, this can be a hard concept to grasp.
I was never bothered by spending money on things that were necessary, but I certainly didn’t blow money. I came to realize that I had to pick my battles when it came to spending. I love my husband more than all of the money in our account, and it belongs to him, too.
I learned that it was okay to occasionally splurge and spend money on things outside of the budget. Because of that, we’ve had a lot of fun experiences and done some pretty cool things that I wouldn’t trade for a million bucks! Seriously!
Money doesn’t grow on trees. Your parents probably told you that a million times as you were growing up, didn’t they? Just because you have money doesn’t mean you have to spend it. There’s a little thing called self-control that you’ll have to begin practicing.
Sure, those shoes are cute, but don’t you have 30 other pairs of shoes in your closet? And maybe that new car is so nice and shiny, but there is always going to be a newer, nicer, shinier car that catches your eye. It’s easy to want things, but it’s a slippery slope. Plus, once you spend money, you can’t always get it back.
There is so much freedom when your things don’t own you. If you can save money, spend wisely, and get out of debt, you’ll quickly realize that the feelings of freedom and security far outweigh the beauty of your cluttered closets or new car.
Be a good steward.
In the end, everything we have belongs to the Lord. You may be thinking, “Hey, I work hard and I earn my money.” Yes, but who fills your lungs with breath every morning so you can go to that job? The Lord is our provider, and He calls us to honor Him with every part of our lives—including our finances.
We cannot serve both God and money, and when our money controls what we do, we basically turn our backs on God’s desires for us (Jeremiah 29:11). Debt binds us, and possessions weigh us down.
Whether you have a lot of money or a little, you can choose to honor God, no matter the amount. Ask him for advice when it comes to spending money. Maybe He has a different plan for your finances than you do. Pray for and use wisdom when making purchases. Most of all, be sure to give to God what is God’s. After all, He will use it for far better purposes than you could ever imagine.