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


This past weekend was the first anniversary of ALL THE THINGS beginning with Mr. A.

A year ago I went to a party at a friend’s house and he walked in and we were like magnets.  Even though we had met each other before, something was different that night.  Everything was different that night.  We talked for hours.  At one point I told him that my earrings were too heavy, so he took them out and kissed my earlobes.  (I mean, seriously.)  A year later we have a 3 month old.  MAY THIS BE A LESSON TO YOU ALL.  Letting a boy kiss your earlobes can totally get you pregnant.  You’re welcome.

I think the most common thing married people say about marriage is that it so hard.  You have to work at it EVERY day, they say.  The first year is the hardest and you’ll fight all the time, they warn.  Blah blah blah.  When I was preparing to get married my best friend had opposing advice.  She told me that marriage was THE BEST thing ever.  She admitted that she and her husband loved it more and more every day and that being married was so much cooler than dating or even just living together.  It just keeps getting better she told me.

Well, I’m going to just say it, being married to Mr. A has been easy and lovely and I love it more with every single passing day.

From the beginning things were just easy.  We never played games.  He always wanted to know when he was going to see me next and he was very, very up front with how much he liked me.  I have always felt incredibly secure in our relationship, something that was completely uncharted territory for me.  It’s given me the confidence to be my most authentic self, and I give him all the support I can muster so that he can be exactly who he is (Someone who I think is incredibly cool, BTW).  Most of all, we like each other.  We’re solidly the best of friends; giggling together as we tip-toe into Miles’ nursery to look at his cherub face one more time before bed.

A year later we still have huge crushes on each other, and we tease each other for it.  Last night I was sitting on the couch after a shower with wet, ratty hair and no make-up casually licking the sugar and cinnamon off the bottom of the chex mix bowl with my finger when he came up and looked at me with shmoopy eyes and told me he loved me.  I laughed and said he was crazy, but over the past year it’s really started to sink in.  I believe him.  He loves me, and I love him back.

Best year EVER.



Newlywed Lessons: Happiness

Mr. A and I have been married now for almost 4 lovely months.  A ton of people have asked me how it’s been going and the easy answer is AWESOMELY.  Being married is fantastic and I recommend it whole heartedly.  It’s easier than I thought it would be in most ways, he’s an easy guy to be around that husband of mine.  But there has definitely been some, what shall we call them, learning opportunities along the way… lessons that I want to remember and pass along so I am introducing Lessons from a Newlywed.  A new weekly series where we can chat about relationships and marriage, husbands and dirty dishes.  I am thinking there might even be some Q&A sessions.  What do you think?  Excited?

Lesson #1: I am still responsible for my own happiness.

Before I met Mr. A, I was single for two whole years.  I focused a ton of energy on figuring my shit out.  I wanted to know who I was and be happy independently before even considering  jumping into a new relationship.  I found hobbies.  I built a community of friends.  I learned how to be alone.  I also learned how to deal with myself when I was having a shitty day.  Now is SO not the time to regress into codependency.

Being married did not take away my shitty days.  For example, my birthday this year?  I was fairly miserable.  I might have cried.  I had to work late so I spent the morning alone and then ate dinner at my desk.  I felt sorry for myself.  Knowing that I had cried on my birthday made Mr. A feel awful.  I think he felt guilty, like it was his fault I was crying.  He went out that evening and bought me a birthday card that sang and a label-maker, to go along with my already received birthday gift, in an attempt to make me feel better.

The next day I told him that while I love him and am so appreciative that he makes attempts to make my shitty days happier ones, my happiness is not his responsibility.  When I am having a bad day, it’s up to me to do the things that will turn it around… whether that means alone time or social time or a little husband cuddling, I have to continue to take responsibility for my own joy.

What happens if in a few years I am hit with some serious depression?  It could happen, my mom has had battles with depressions.  What if I was so dependent on Mr. A to be my source of happiness that I relied on him to get me out of my depression?  That could end really badly guys.  I need to be self-aware and self-caring enough to nip any sort of real issues in the bud.  I cannot be wasting time thinking Mr. A is somehow not doing his job of littering my life with sunshine and rainbows to ward off any depression.  Instead, I let Mr. A add to my happiness but try to remember that the day-to-day outlook I have on life is and will always be a product of my own choices.

So now, when I am feeling down Mr. A will generally ask if there is anything he can do, and when I say no, he gives me some space.  I always come around and he doesn’t have to spend his otherwise fine day being stressed out by my shitty mood.  We both win.