So we all know that money can be one of the main sources of stress, frustration, arguments, reasons for divorce, etc. Usually in a marriage each person has a different idea on how to spend, save and give money... And a lot of times, we aren't willing to give up our ideas and reasons to spend or not to spend...Perhaps it's become habitual, we grew up that way, etc.
Some people are naturally more of savers and some are naturally more of spenders.. For Jesse and I, he has always been a saver and I have always been a giver and spender.. I grew up with a Mom and two sisters that loved shopping! It's what we wanted to do when we weren't in school or sports.. We wanted to shop! Hello retail therapy anyone? We weren't always given money from my parents, we had to save in order to be able to shop. We didn't grow up with credit cards... Just debit cards which took the money right out of our accounts right then.
I remember getting my first credit card in college and kind of being scared to use it because I needed to keep track of how much I spent to be able to pay my bill at the end of the month. If I wrote a check, I was so super old school that I kept track of my spending on the log they give you. So as time went on, I felt more freedom.. You know... Going from a poor college kid, to graduating and getting my first job.. I had more to spend but we also had to pay all our bills and at that time we were only living off my teacher income plus tutoring money since Jesse was a pro golfer. It was tight so there wasn't a whole lot of extra spending going on.
Well, once Jesse switched careers and we moved to Scottsdale, I really felt like, we had made it! And no doubt we had! But guess what? More money, more spending and yes, more problems.. We were renting when we first moved and then we bought our first home together! That meant, more mortgage, more responsibility and we just had our first son, Oliver. Jesse was busy at work, I was busy at home. We kind of got into this routine of just spending what we needed or wanted and then looked at the bill at the end of the month and paid it. We hoped we had some left over to save but it varied from month to month. It's also complicated because he's commission based pay.
Well, fast forward almost 7 years later and here we are.. Lots of expenses, lots of explanations of why there was spending, and lots of frustration from my poor husband. If you don't know me, I believe a gift should be given for everything. He doesn't. If you know me, I still love shopping. He doesn't. Well, actually if it can be bought at Costco, he'll buy it! hah! So, I was frustrated that he couldn't understand all the things me as mom needed or felt justified to spend money on for our family, school for the kids, friends, gifts, Target, Nordstrom.... He was frustrated because I was stressing him out with all that I would spend. So we blew up at each other, stayed frustrated and just couldn't figure out how to solve this issue. Thankfully the only debt we have is our house and my car.
I finally simply stated, "If you give me a budget for some categories we tend to spend on, then I'm happy to do it and stick with it!" Oh, you better believe that man was on his laptop drafting up numbers, analyzing credit card statements and smiling from ear to ear! Meanwhile, some of our best friends here suggested we try going to cash only. Say what? I'm lucky if I have a dollar in my wallet. But I have my plastic dollars no doubt! Our friends mentioned that it was so good for their marriage and so doable, so we should try it!
So, we did it! We came up with categories, went and got an accordion file to keep all the cash in and Jesse went straight to the bank to fill up those files with cash. GIRLS!!!! You give me a challenge, and I'm all in... I do my best to plan my day and think about where I'll be spending money or if I even need to.. I'll grab cash from that file and head out! You wouldn't believe the reactions I've gotten when I hand over cash, especially exact change! The cashiers sort of lose their minds!
Now, I do a lot of online shopping like Amazon, Grocery Pick Up, Target Pick Up, etc.. So, obviously I'm not handing over cash in those situations.. What I'm doing is going to that category in my little file and taking out the cash in the amount I spent to transfer it to another accordion file which goes back into our account to pay off our credit card bill. So, it's still gone from that category but we know it will be used to put back towards our bill.
SO, the best part, is now I REALLY evaluate each purchase, it's not careless or just because anymore. And, when I get home, I can physically see how much we have left for that category this month! If we happen to have extra at the end of the month we have decided to put it towards a project that we are going to be working on with the house, vacation, etc.
I can't tell you how much something so simple can change the tone and stress of your marriage. If money and finances are an issue for your family, I urge you to try this! It's not always easy because some months you will have more expenses than others, and some months you just really want to fall back into your old habits. But, to see the trust, the contentment and peace that it has brought my husband to know that I can actually spend responsibly and be a good steward of our money, is priceless. It also makes me proud of myself when I stick to it and care more about where our money actually goes.
If you have any questions about this, please don't hesitate to message me! I'd love to go more into detail with you! Keep in mind, categories and amounts differ for each family and their needs.