When my husband, Brad, and I were first married my mother-in-law said we had champagne taste on a beer budget. And she was right. We loved eating out, traveling, and just spending money. Like so many other couples out there we didn’t have a budget and we quickly got ourselves into debt. We bought a house too soon and started racking up the credit card debt.
Can anyone else relate?
Just a little background information…
Unfortunately for Brad, I did not learn anything about money or budgeting before we got married. As a mater of fact, my father sat me down the night before I left for college and showed me how to balance a checkbook. As I am sure you can imagine this one-time teaching did not stick. So when I got married right out of college my “financial knowledge” consisted of me checking my account balance from an ATM.
Brad on the other hand, learned how to balance accounts and manage money at an early age.
Now, you may think this caused some friction and tension in our marriage. And you would be right. CNBC recently posted their findings regarding stress and marriage. The number one cause of stress in a marriage? Finances.
According to NerdWallet the average indebted household carries a credit card balance of $15,762. The average household is paying almost $6,658 a year in interest – that’s 9% of household income being spent on interest alone. This does not include mortgages, auto or student loans.
American’s are spending an average of $1.26 for every dollar earned and 70% of American households are living paycheck-to-paycheck. No wonder everyone is so stressed-out.
So what do we do?
How do we change this financial course our lives have taken?
It’s actually rather easy. Hold on and make sure you are paying attention here. I’m about to reveal a secret: Stop spending money you don’t have. BOOM! :)
That’s right, I went there. I’m talking about living WITHIN your means which requires budgeting for purchases BEFORE buying them and paying CASH! I’m talking about paying off all of your debt and gaining FINANCIAL FREEDOM!
Now I know I said this was easy. And it is. Eventually. Like anything of value or importance it takes time. But I can promise you investing your time and energy into living within your means and living debt-free is life altering.
I’m speaking from experience here.
Brad and I did all the wrong things with our money. We bought a vacation house, boats (yes, plural!), and new cars all with financing. We piled on the debt and I can tell you it wreaked havoc in our marriage especially during the early years.
Luckily we reached a turning point and realized that none of the “stuff” we bought made us happy. It was all just making us stressed. The more we had the more we stressed. We were running two businesses and working all the time in order to support this lifestyle. The long work hours negatively impacted our marriage and our relationship with our then 8 year-old daughter. We began to question: Is it worth it?
We decided it was not. What made us happy was time with one another and with our daughter. And we wanted it. We wanted more time together.
So how did we do it? We stopped spending money we didn’t have. We created a budget – one that we worked on together and was mutually agreed upon. And we stuck with it. Getting out of debt and saving money became a priority because it allowed us to drop one of our businesses – it gave us time to invest in our marriage and in our daughter.
While I do enjoy champagne I’ve realized I’d rather just drink beer and save the money!