If you're like me, you're ready for Spring! All the snow and bitter cold this past week has me yearning for warmer temperatures and sunnier days. Oh well... let's turn our attention again to accomplishing our financial goals and the Baby Steps we started following last week. In case you haven't read the first two blogs on the Baby Steps, take a few minutes to read through them.
We're starting with the "unofficial" Baby Step 0, which is to commit. First, commit to never borrowing money again (except to buy a house), and second, commit to talking to your spouse and getting on the same page in terms of your goals and how you're going to accomplish them.
Why is this important? Some believe that, even though they are married, finances are still separate. Debts are separate, incomes are separate, bills are separate. In a marriage, however, two become one. "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh" Gen. 2:24. Therefore, there is no "his" and "hers" with finances - it's our fiances... our income... our debt... our budget... our financial dream... our life together.
I love this quote from DR, "Marriages are either growing together or growing apart... when we're sharing our goals, we're sharing our lives."
An important point that Dave Ramsey points out is that, ladies, if your family is struggling financially, your husband's self-esteem is suffering, and even more so if he is self-employed. Gentlemen, if your family is struggling financially, your wife is feeling afraid and insecure.
The main thing that men get from money is esteem, and the main thing for women is security. It is important to know this and recognise this as you go through your life-long financial "adventure" together. Make sure you discuss your thoughts and feelings when times are tough, like when unexpected big expenses, job losses, or when dreams are dashed.
Start here: give each other a hug. You're in this together. For better or worse, for richer or poorer. Next, make a list of everything you can sell to put towards building an emergency fund or paying off debt (we'll discuss these steps in BS 1 and 2). Make a plan of how your going to get your finances in order and start working and living towards your dreams together. Hint: take a look at the overview of the Baby Steps; you can probably take a guess at which Baby Step you're in, or where you need to start. Once you have a plan in place and take ACTION, men, your self-esteem will strengthen, and ladies, your feeling of security will increase.
The following questions will help you to begin to understand each other's thoughts surrounding some of the issues in each question... by the way, you don't have to have the answers to all of these or know how you're going to accomplish them at this point.
*Do both partners need or want to work? Is part-time possible, or is full-time necessary?
*How soon do we want to purchase a house? A new car? Our next holiday? A new piece of furniture?
*Do I need to get permission for every penny I spend or is there some leniency? What if I want to buy something for myself (that no one else in the family benefits from)?
*How soon do you want to pay off debt? And the car loan? And the mortgage?
*Do we want to help financially support our children through university? If so, how much? Some of it or all of it?
*How do we see ourselves living in retirement?
*What changes do we need to make to make this happen?
What if you're not married? If you're single, find someone who will act as a mentor, someone you can trust to work with you and encourage you. This may be a friend or family member, someone from your church or maybe even me. I am more than willing to help in any way I can; please just let me know.
You may be wondering about how my husband and I handle our finances, and I'd be glad to tell you. Our finances are completely combined. At the start of every month, we compare budgets for the upcoming month. We talk very openly about our expenditures, concerns and goals. If one of us wants to buy something, we discuss it first, no matter the cost. We agree on our short- and our long-term goals: to buy a new-to-us 7-seater/ mini-van (in American) with cash, to take a family holiday to Disney World paid for in advance, to pay for most or all of our daughters' university, to pay off our mortgage as soon as we can - which is many years away - all while giving generously.
Has it always been this way? From very early on in our relationship, we discussed finances and money, but we agree, that we have improved greatly over the years in the way we budget and decide how and when to spend money. Because personal finance and saving money are my interests, Jeff usually goes along with the suggestion that I have, though we always discuss things before we do them. Is there room for improvement? Always, but I believe we're working together really well to accomplish our financial goals.
It is not only great for your finances, but also great for your marriage, to be working together to accomplish your financial goals, too.