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The Newlywed Learning Curve (Chapter 1)

I heard the other day that the thing newlyweds fight about most is money. Oh man. Money is a very personal and potentially stressful topic. And two people sharing an income after having managed their finances independently (and probably very differently) can create major tension! JBoat and I have been very lucky to argue only a little about it (so far)…so I thought I’d share a little about what we’ve learned.

1. Share a bank account and a budget. Seriously. I was surprised at first when I heard (married) couples use separate accounts. But then I thought about it. I guess it seems more manageable to just keep doing things your own way, even after you say “I do.” But it won’t be in the long run. Prioritize your spending together, be sure you both agree to and respect a budget. Not only is it a learning experience in compromising, but it’s also a great team building exercise, if you know what I’m saying 😉 it takes two to tango and you’re in this together (or something equally as inspiring and cheesy). Work at it. And stick to it! Hard work and perseverance will pay off. Pun intended 😉

2. Sharing a budget means deciding how much to save, give and spend. The first year we were married, this was a rough subject. Not only was a capitol campaign underway at our church, but we were both also supporting Compassion kids and wanting to tithe 10%. And we weren’t sure we’d have money to put away, or how we would stay ahead of J’s student loans. So, we decided we had to prioritize: God first, saving and debt second and then our day to day expenses. And ya, there were lean times. Like, I couldn’t always go out with my girlfriends for dinner and J couldn’t afford regular games of golf. And our date nights consisted of $5 movie nights and coffee runs. We didn’t eat out much.
And it wasn’t the end of the world.
It was actually really fun to come in under budget every month by being creative and cheap 🙂 And now, we have a nice nest egg and the loans are under control. You’ll only be a poor newlywed for a period in your life. Enjoy the experience!

3. Budget in a weekly date night. Yes! Do it! Then, there’s no pressure over an extra expense. And, you’ll try out a bunch of things you wouldn’t usually do on a date just to meet the budget parameters (at least, that’s what we did)! Driving range visits, happy hour meals, local coffee shops, art walks, state park visits…expand your horizons! And the date night budget when you can 🙂

4. Live inside your means. I’d like to mention at this point that these aren’t mentioned in any particular order 🙂 This one’s important. Budget wisely and realistically. Use a cash budget if it helps you keep better track of your spending. Cut corners where you can. Budget for emergencies and extras so you don’t go over on your car’s blown tire or a friend’s wedding gift. Leave yourself some wiggle room for a new pair of shoes. Buy what you need. Debt is a nasty, sneaky thing and a credit card can seem like a no brainer when you’re in a pinch. But use it with discretion. If at all. I use mine for work purchases that I get reimbursed for. J uses it to pay our automated bills (like utilities and tithes) and then reimburses these charges from our checking account. That way, we’re building credit with little overhead. Remember, living within your means now leads to more fun to be had in the future! Hopefully 😉

There you have it, friends. I’m no expert, but these things have definitely come in handy in the past two years. Do you have any budgeting tricks? Share them in the comments!

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