Money and Marriage

Before getting married, I was never very good at money.  At my best I was budgeting to the dime to get by, at my worst I was overspending and using credit cards to bridge the gap.  (Not advised my friends.)

After my horrible, no-good, very bad, break-up in 2009 I was fully on a spending spree.  It filled the hole.  I deserved it!  I would fly places and buy things like Anthropolie quilts and lovely dinners out.  By the time I had worked through all of those emotions and stopped over-spending I was left with some pretty serious debt and a severely defeated opinion of my ability to handle my own finances.

Then I got pregnant.

Mike had a savings account, which I took to mean he was SO GOOD AT MONEY!  What was actually the case was that he had no real expenses so he didn’t have to pay attention to his spending at all and his savings account would just grow and grow.

When I went on maternity leave, we had to dip into his savings a lot.  When I was only working part-time we had to dip into his savings a lot.  One night, before I found my new job and after my non-profit had declined my request to come back full time, we sat on the couch and had the real conversation that we could not keep going the way we were… the savings account was getting smaller.  We could go on for a month, tops.

That was one of the hardest nights we’ve had since we got married.  I cried a lot.  I felt really helpless and guilty and awful.  Mike felt powerless and frustrated and like he wasn’t properly providing for our new family.

Then I got a new job.  It pays way better, but I was still finding myself needing that next pay check so much.  I had a nebulous idea of “Hey, I’m making so much more money, now I can spend all the money I want!”  (Spoiler alert: This was false.)

We knew that we wanted Miles to start at a new (much more expensive) day care in the fall and Mike needed a new car.  It was time to budget and get our whole financial plan into order.

So we started a budget.  We started tracking.  And it’s been the MOST liberating experience I’ve ever had.

We still get to have all the fun we want, we’re just aware.  We have successfully finished out second month with our budget, and it’s been amazing.

We can confidently start Miles in his new school in the fall.  We can confidently buy Mike a new car, while not being afraid we will run out of money for diapers.

We have money in our savings account.  (We have a joint savings and individual accounts.)  For the first time in my entire life, I am spending less than I am making.  I have a savings account that is growing and making me all kinds of happy.

I have shared our tracking with some people, and wanted to do it here too.  We use Google Drive to track our spending.  We have categories that we’ve budged amount into, and each time we spend and enter that category, my sheet automatically sums up how much I have left in each category.  I made a generic version of what we use.  I hope it helps someone too!

Google Doc

Oy with the Poodles Already.

Want to know what stresses me out? Yeah, money does. I’m not really good at it. In the future, I will be looking for a potential husband who is just REALLY great at it. Give me a budget. Don’t leave me in control of our savings cause we’ll be poor.

I read somewhere that it’s “normal” to spend too much after a break-up. But I should win a prize for the spending that has occurred in the past 5 months.

I’ve become indulgent. I did not like having to deny myself and opportunity to do anything or be with anyone. So I spent more money on dinners and travel and ANYTHING. I had also been horrendously indulgent on things for myself… new things for my apartment, new make-up to make myself feel better, etc. And when I couldn’t afford it, I charged it. Typical right? I know I am not the only person in the world do have done this, but it sucked. A lot.

But I was able to handle it ignore it because I had way more limit on my credit cards than I knew what to do with. And then a funny thing happened… I got “upgraded” on my GAP card and in the process of reissuing a prettier version of my card they decided to decrease my credit limits. So, over night I became “maxed” out. That was not fun. Not fun at all. I’ve been a stress case. Which means that my cuticle beds are a MESS and I hate that feeling.

And then I went to get my oil changed. And I went to a place that is, apparently, notorious for overcharging. It’s the kind of place that you stay in your car and a REALLY nice man comes and shows you your filter and automatic fluid and whetever and recommends replacement or not. I said yes. I said yes to the tune of $176. Now, I had enough for a “normal” oil change, but I didn’t have $176. And I didn’t have my credit cards to fall back on…. so I had to hand him my debit card KNOWING it was going to overdraft my account. If that’s not the worst feeling ever.

Anyhow. Today is a new day. Lessons have been learned. And I feel awful that I had to learn them because my Grams has worked REALLY hard to keep me from these types of lessons. Sigh. Today I am reclaiming control over my financial situation. And I am writing it here to keep myself accountable. Sounds good? Okay. Here we go:

  1. First step has been to create a legit budget. I hadn’t done this cause I’m an idiot. So that is done. Everything is in place, including “debt repayment”.
  2. Credit Cards are officially cut up. No mas. I kept one, that I will be leaving at home and will use in emergencies… once the balance is paid off.

  1. I have cut and reduced. I dropped my class (to get the refund and some more time to just be at home relaxed). I called my cell phone company and got my bill reduced by $20/month. I reduced my gym membership from the fancy one to the normal one (because a treadmill is a treadmill?) saving $30/month. I have a budget for eating out (which isn’t much) and food that is completely reasonable.
  2. I will be keeping track of all the money I spend.
  3. I will be telling my friends “no”. That I can’t afford to do X, how about we do Y instead. “Y” being a cheaper/free alternative.
  4. Spending halt. No new things ever. If I need something I can find it used. Or on sale. In other words: All non-essentials will be cut, all essentials bought only at a discount.
  5. I am “thinking” of trying to get some babysitting gigs. There are so many women in the junior league and babysitting is fun and a good way to get my baby fix while earning “fun money”.
  6. Next year, roommate. I pay SO much each month in rent. It’s too much. So I will find some very lucky person who gets to hang out with me, Oliver, and Lucy… and split rent, televisions, electrics, etc. We’ll be the bestest of friends.

I feel better. More in control. Definitely humbled. Definitely going to learn this personal finance thing.