Once upon a time two young people fell in love, had a whirl-wind courtship and engagement period, then married a little over a year later. He’s a banker, I was a teacher. He had been living on his own for a few years, where as I just graduated from college and moved back in with my mom. He had been making a steady income for a while, I just received my first real check as a professional (that’s a lot of money! Or so I thought) 🙂
We begin meeting regularly together , even before we married, to start discussing how we would budget our two incomes and also to review our weeks together. I’m not going to lie, those meetings in the early days of our marriage where rough.
We quickly learned that my husband was a saver and I was a spender, and when the two of those characteristics unit… sparks tend to fly, and not necessarily the good kind either! 🙂
We knew that some habits had to change, not only for the good our marriage, but also to maintain and pursue financial goals we had set. We had a budget in place, we knew what bills needed to be paid, how much we would tithe and how much we needed to save to reach those goals. Today I want to share with you 5 tips that helped bring us unity in our marriage as well as transform my ways from spender into saver.
1. Pray for Wisdom
Money is a sensitive area to talk about and we have a hard time surrendering it, especially to God. When I started to pray for God to give me wisdom and understanding in how my husband felt about my spending habits, my eyes were opened. I started to see how I was spending money.
If you are the spender in the family, pray for self control and for a understanding of why you are drawn to spending money. If you are the saver, pray for a gentle spirit in how you communicate with your spender.
I firmly believe in the power of prayer in all aspects of our lives, including in the area of our finances. It was only when I surrendered myself to God through prayer that I was able reign in my spending habits and help set our finances back on track.
2. Shop with a List (and Stick To It!)
We had a budget in place so I knew how much money there was in each category every month. The hard part is sticking to that budget. One of the easiest ways to do that is to make a list before you go into any store and stick with it.
I started to make a grocery list organized by the aisles so I knew exactly where I needed to go in the store. No more wondering around and throwing impulse purchases in. I can no longer go into Target (my biggest weakness) without a shopping list.
While we don’t use the cash envelope system, I did get into the habit of using a calculator as a I shop. When I know that I need to keep my shopping trip under a certain dollar amount, I tend to stick very closely to the list. I would make it a game to try to stay under a certain number and I always felt a sense of pride when the total rang up below by goal!
3. Record Every Purchase
I had to get into the habit of recording down every single purchase I made to see where I was spending the money. This was not something that my husband asked me to do, it was something that I chose to do because I was tired and frustrated of always being the one (rightfully so) accused of blowing the budget. I’m a visual person so I knew that if I had a visual then I would be able to see the problem, and boy did I ever see the problem!
I used an old checkbook registrar that we didn’t need to record every purchase. It was small and handy to fit inside my purse and I didn’t feel weird pulling it out at the store (because everyone used to use those all the time!) What I quickly came to see was how all those “little” purchases can quickly add up.
A latte on the way to work, aimlessly wondering around Target after I already purchased the items on my list, using the Amazon Buy with 1-Click option… you get the idea. Those purchases that don’t appear to cost more then a few dollars quickly add up over the month and I soon had a very apparent visual of just how much money I was spending. No wonder my poor husband was getting so frustrated with me!
4. Make a Fun Money Category
If there is room in your budget create a small category to use as fun money, which basically means to use as you see fit. Due to my initial lack of self discipline, I had to start with a low number, but as the years have gone on and I have become more frugal, I view this category as an every once in a while treat and I am much more discerning on how I use it.
If your budget us super tight then try to set a small goal of a once a month (or when ever you can afford it) small treat. Sometimes just knowing that you have a small reward coming if you stay the course, can give you all the motivation you need to not spend money on impulse purchases.
5. Be Willing to Let Your Heart Change
Throughout the years of becoming more disciplined in my spending habits I have surprisingly come to realize that my heart has changed in this area. While I think my husband will always say I am more of a spender then he is, he will also tell you that I have become very frugal too. I knew that one day we would live on once income so I could stay at home so now I pay very close attention to where I’m spending the money.
Through prayer, sticking to shopping lists, recording every purchase for a period and learning to use the fun money wisely, I have transformed from a spender into a saver and my marriage couldn’t be any more stronger, not to mention that husband is elated! So how about you?