Everyone says that money is one of the biggest triggers for any marriage or relationship. If you’ve ever had any financial woes, you understand why.
We bought our first house in January 2019 & furnished nearly every room with brand new furniture.
We got married in June 2019. My parents paid quite a nice sum towards our wedding, but we also chipped in A LOT and paid for a tropical honeymoon.
We found out I was pregnant in September 2019.
We decided to change how we handle & spend money in October 2019. We wanted to be able to provide for our family, no matter the incident. If our daughter wants to take dance classes, we don’t want to scrape by or cut something else out to be able to afford them.
Mike & I started following the Dave Ramsey plan from his book The Total Money Makeover. We’ve followed some advice better than other advice, but all in all we’re trying. I like how Ramsey breaks everything down. He explains that there are 7 steps to building financial freedom:
- Set up your emergency fund with $1000.
- Pay off all your debt.
- Save 3-6 months worth of your expenses.
- Invest your income.
- Save for your children’s college.
- Pay off your mortgage early.
- Build wealth.
Aren’t the last 3 steps everyone’s dream? The first 3 are definitely the hardest. Granted they are the only steps we’ve worked on so far, but it’s hard work! It’s a mental battle. We live in a society that justifies spending money you don’t have. We live in a society that not only encourages champagne tastes, but makes them “attainable” with high interest rates. We were always willing to spend above our means, until the past few years.
I was 19 when I moved out to my first apartment from my parents’ house (towards the beginning of our relationship). I applied for a few credit cards, and of course the applications were accepted – that is the American way after all!
The following year my entire immediate family was going on a big vacation to Myrtle Beach. The rational, financially sound person would have declined taking a vacation she couldn’t afford. That was not me. I thought it would be a brilliant idea to apply for another credit card. What was the big deal? After all, I would only use that credit card for that vacation and then never spend on it again. Well, I still have that credit card today. It’s funny how that small credit card kept “earning” a credit limit increase & I kept spending towards that new maximum allowance.
I used to handle the finances on my own, and I now know that I had no business doing that. Money is something I’ve always struggled to understand. Money is just numbers added up, but it’s basically another language when you add dollar signs & interest rates. I don’t speak finance.
Several years ago, we had to get our finances in order so that we could start the process of buying a house. We sat down together to map out my credit card debt and all our monthly bills. I remember him asking me “Who the hell gave you all this credit? You don’t make any money!” Remember, I was a public school teacher only a few years out of college. He was 100% justified in being flabbergasted by my credit allowance & the number of credit cards I had. After all, you need that store credit card to get the random 20% sales throughout the year, right?
It wasn’t that I was hiding information from him or not telling him about credit cards. He knew I had them all along. Seeing those totals together on paper was justifiably breathtaking, for me as well.
I made a spreadsheet on Google Sheets for our monthly bills. It’s been adapted over time, and even more once we started following Ramsey’s advice. It’s nothing perfect & we still modify it every few months, but it’s what works for us! I’m obviously not showing screenshots of our actual information, but this is basically what our sheet looks like:
Every month, we copy the tab and make a new one. We keep all the old tabs so that we can compare balances & bill amounts from month to month.
By no means are we perfect with our finances, but this spreadsheet works for us. We both have access to it, and plug the information required into it monthly. We both have a 100% understanding of where our finances are & will be by the end of the month at any moment. We have some pretty lofty goals for ourselves, and this is just the start of accomplishing them.