I am in one of the last “slower” weeks for the foreseeable near future. Maternity, newborn, milestone, engagement and spring sessions are all on the near horizon! I can’t wait for the warmer weather and photographing but I also know that my work hours will soon be spent mainly photographing, editing and emailing so this blog series needs to happen NOW. For the next 4 weeks, I am going to share a little bit about Nathan and I’s relationship. What works for us. What doesn’t work at all. How we survive with 2 toddler age kids. Each post will have a specific theme and the first one I am going to talk about is, finances.
What a boring way to start, am I right??? But, “money issues” is one of the number 1 reasons couples get divorced. So, let’s tackle this!
The first thing I want to get out of the way is, we are certainly no experts. What we do just works for us but it took some trial and error to figure out exactly what does work. And we are far from perfect. All of what I will write over the next 4 blogs will 100% be from personal experience and does not mean it will work for you and your spouse/fiancee. Everyone is different and different things work for different people. So, take this all with a little grain of salt 🙂
The first main thing we had to decide, once households were combined is, separate or joint bank accounts. I know a lot of people who have separate accounts and some who have 2 separate accounts plus one joint for bills. We opted from the start to just combine everything into one joint account. And really I think we did this because it was just easier for us to manage. Plus, to be totally honest, in the beginning my husband was not good with money. His credit was junk and he needed help lol. Good thing I came along because he now rocks an amazing credit score :).
The next big thing to talk about was, what are our goals?? Do we want new cars soon? Buy a different house?? Take lots of vacations?? Most of those things are bigger and require saving of SOME sort, so it is so good to just communicate any bigger purchase desires you might have, so you both can work towards those things together. We talk about these kind of things often too, which we really feel like makes a bigger difference.
We ended up buying our very first home just a month before our wedding and soon started “living on a budget” versus just paying bills and doing whatever we wanted with the leftovers. Pretty quickly, we adopted the Dave Ramsey Cash Envelope Method. This worked WONDERFULLY for us for many years and it really helped us to save quite a bit in short amount of time. We don’t use the envelope system anymore but it really made a difference when we did.
I won’t go into super specific detail on this system just because it is very involved, but you can read up on it all HERE to get a better idea of how it works and where to get started with it. But it really helped us because it allowed us to see the bigger picture of where we were actually spending our money and just how much we should really have left over to save towards something bigger.
One method we tried for awhile after we stopped using the cash envelope system was putting all of our purchases onto a credit card. Then we would pay that card off every month. The card earned a certain percentage of cash back, which was why it appealed to us. We did this method for about a year and while we did earn a decent amount of cash back, we felt like we were spending more money than what we should have been. It is just too easy to “just put it on the credit card”, even though we were still following a budget. Which is why we feel in general credit cards are not a good idea and we do not carry ANY credit card debt.
What we are now doing is very similar to the cash envelope method, but just doing it electronically. Which is just MUCH easier! I was able to set up multiple accounts with our bank and was able to name each account. So, we have our main checking and main savings account. Then we have smaller, separate accounts for things like groceries, gas, gifts, home and car maintenance, ect. Each month, money is transferred into each smaller account from the main one, according to our budget.
So, for example, we budget $400 every month on groceries. Every 2 weeks, I transfer $200 into our “Groceries” account. Then, every time we go to the store, I take the amount we spend and transfer it back into the main account that the debit card draws from. It is very similar to the cash system, but being able to just do everything from my phone makes things about a million times easier!
This takes a bit of work to get started of course, but it is so worth it in the end! This prevents a lot of over spending for us. If it is the end of the month and there is nothing in the “Eating Out” account but we are craving pizza, well we have to wait or make it at home. Also, this really makes us talk about money every few months. We review things about 4 times a year, just to make sure we are all on the same page and see if there are any places we need to make changes.
If you are struggling with finances and budgets, I highly recommend checking out Dave Ramsey. He gives a lot of wonderful and mostly free advice. Also, just talk about it. Being on the same page with each other is huge or even just knowing what the other person is thinking or feeling. So, TALK about it! Even though money talks can sometimes just not be fun, communicating (you will see this word a lot over the next few weeks!) is absolutely key! It will prevent a lot of money related resentment and prevent any kind of financial surprises.
Next week, I will be talking all about how Nathan & I share the load of caring for our kids and house. That one you will want all the guys to read, because boy does he set the bar high!
Until then, SPRING sessions are live! You can check out my blog on them HERE and book your session HERE!