This post is written as part of Ruth Soukup’s Secret 13 Blog Tour, which I am excited to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. – See more here.
I am one lucky lady. I am still in love after 12 years of marriage. And we rarely fight.
How have we come to this place in our marriage has taken work.
LOTS OF WORK.
But let me tell you, it has been worth every ounce of effort we have given it.
There are so many things I could tell you that make our marriage work, but today I am focusing on one.
One tangible thing that you can do to make your marriage better. One thing you can start tomorrow. One of thing that will be the most powerful, life-changing New Years Resolutions you can make in your life. And in case you are not reading this in January, DON”T WAIT–start now. No need for a resolution to make a powerful change in your life.
Make a Family Budget and Stick to It
Please don’t run. This is hard, but there are tools out there to help you get this done (more on that in a moment.)
Hear me out on this and I think you will see that this is really a key tool to a happy marriage. Because MONEY is by far one of the most common things couples fight or disagree about.
Why is money such a touchy topic in marriages?
Many couples have no idea where their money is going. Either because there are hidden purchases, spending without thinking, or no accurate records of expenses.
We command our money to do what we need it to do through our budget.
And we have peace.
Maybe we don’t have the house of our dreams or even granite counter tops, like I dream for, but we have true FINANCIAL PEACE and therefore PEACE in our marriage.
So let me break it down for you.
STEP ONE: THE BUDGET
At the start of every year, we have what we call our Financial Summit. We take what we know our income is and we look over our expenses from the previous year. And then we make a plan.
We plan to tithe first and foremost, and then we break down what we have left into our needs. Anything leftover we divide among our wants.
If you have never had a budget, you may not be able to accurately predict all your expenses. Start with the knowns–your mortgage/rent, bills, medical expenses, car payments, etc. And then what you have leftover you divide it how you THINK appropriate. You can adjust weekly or monthly as needed as long as your are discussing it. If you don’t have the money…sorry, the spot for cable may be left blank. Now you know what you want to work towards obtaining.
A great worksheet to get you started is this Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Budget from Living Well Spending Less.
STEP TWO: GOALS
We create goals. We openly discuss what we would do with more money. We share our dreams and our desires and we make a financial plan to reach those dreams.
This is where something that you desire to have, like for instance that cable package, can be discussed and planned for.
It is important to share your goals so you are not shocked when extra money comes in and your spouse thinks it should all go to a vacation and you think it should go to clothes. If you talk about it in advance, you can more easily compromise then when the money is in your hands.
To be honest, there have been many heart felt conversations when we have realized that some of our desires do not line up or are decades away from coming to fruition. And yes, it is disappointing. BUT by sharing those frustrations with your spouse in a non-combative way and making plans and compromises together to reach your goals, you beccome a team.
A STRONG TEAM. A team that is playing together and has each others’s backs. A team that makes facing the GIANTS out there (AKA the budgeting challenges) so much easier to tackle. A teammate that understands and supports you saying, Boy, that car is nice but I am grateful to not have the payment that comes with that car.
We also set goals for our long-term future. No one wants to hit retirement age with zero money in the bank. That makes that daily coffee run, or whatever vice you have and can’t afford, seem even more ridiculous when you end up working for years longer than hoped to pay for that indulgence.
STEP THREE: TRACK YOUR MONEY
My husband has an excel sheet in which he enters every purchase we make and bill we pay into this form each week. (I LOVE that it is him that has taken on this task. I majored in Math, so I am capable, but so grateful for one less thing on my to-do list.) He prints off his excel sheet and brings it home for me to review each week.
I look it over and make changes as needed or explain to him that a certain purchase needs to be moved from the groceries to the gift category, etc.
STEP FOUR: ACCOUNTABILITY
This is where I feel it is my job to use the money we have to the best of my ability. I am responsible for the financial welfare of my family, just as much as my husband, who is the one who is technically bringing home the dough at the moment.
I know I have x amount for groceries, so as much as I want to make that pesto this week, if it ain’t in my budget or pantry, it ain’t happening.
This is very hard work! Many times I find myself wanting to go here or do this. But if we don’t have the money for it, or both agree to pull it from another unnecessary category (like the going out to eat fund, NOT the medical expense fund), we say no.
But this is so we can say YES more often in the future and to the things that really matter to our family. Not just every random temptation that comes our way.
STEP FIVE: CELEBRATE
- Celebrate the less fighting in your marriage.
- Celebrate every DEBT paid.
- Celebrate the sleep you get, because you know what is going on in your bank account and aren’t worried about a check bouncing.
- Celebrate providing for your needs.
- Celebrate when you can fulfill a want without debt.
- Celebrate being content with less.
- Celebrate being a positive role model for your children in how they should manage their money.
Staying on budget is not easy at times. But once you get on the path to implementing one and sticking to it, the peace you experience is so freeing. You may never have the house of your dreams, but you will have peace and you will have joy. And in my experience, you will have the best marriage you can have.
It is a lot easier to be content with what you have when you know what you can afford.
And your marriage and your life will be in a better place, even if you have you have to give up a few of your desires for material goods.
At the end of the day, isn’t that what matters? Relationships. Not the purse on your shoulder.
Tell your money to do what you need to it to do and trust God to do the rest.
Want the “Good Life” for 2015? Need Help Creating a Budget? Need Help Learning to be Content with Less?
Let me STRONGLY encourage you to purchase Ruth Soukup’s new book, Living Well, Spending Less.
Learning to spend less to have a better life, is not easy (even after doing it for years) and I appreciate having the solid, tried and true tips that Ruth has humbly shared in this book to encourage me to stick the course of being content with less. I truly felt like I had a friend cheering me on the course I know to be right, as I read this book.