When B and I were going through our premarital counseling with the pastor at my church, one of the topics he brought up was how money is and can be the leading source of frustration and strife in a marriage. Especially when you throw two people that come from completely different backgrounds into the mix. I knew that money could be an issue, but I just assumed that we would figure it out. I mean, we both had jobs, minimal debt, and we were pretty open about where we stood on the matter.
My pastor suggested that we take Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course as part of our premarital 'training,' and suggested we look up the closest local church that was offering it in the spring of 2010. I know what you're thinking, money, and Dave Ramsey, can be considered taboo topics, but I just wanted to share what I learned on our journey. And, it was definitely noteworthy enough to be featured in my 31 Days series.
It turned out that our church was offering the course that spring. So, we took the plunge, ordered the supplies and signed up. It is also worth noting that B is a finance guy. He had already purchased and read Dave's most recent book, so he knew what he was getting himself into. I, on the other hand, had a lot more to learn. Don't get me wrong, my bills were always paid on time, and I had some extra 'fun money' to use each month. It was the word 'save' that I was still having trouble digesting.
We chose the physical class, but there are many ways to get to know more about Dave Ramsey's theories. I liked the idea of the class because I felt like it would hold us both accountable. We could watch and listen to each week's lesson without distractions, and we even had to complete homework assignments and dialogue with people we'd never met about our finances.
This scenario may sound a little scary, but it was a huge growing experience for me, and it really taught me how important it was to start planning for our future as early as possible. My biggest takeaways were paying down any and all debt you may have (not including a mortgage), creating a emergency fund of three to six months of your expenses over time, and just being more responsible with money in general. Dave's slogan should be 'Live like no one else, so later you can LIVE like no one else!' We went through everything from student loan balances to credit reports while we were engaged, and as uncomfortable as that first conversation was, we are so much better, and more honest, for it at this early point in our marriage.
I give 100% of the credit for my new outlook and knowledge to this experience that we had together. We've been able to accomplish so much already, and trust me, being debt free is amazing.
But, before you write me off as a 'changed woman' who is bragging on her financial accomplishments, know that the journey has not been easy. Money will always be a part of our relationship, and our family. There is no one of getting around it, and it took me a while to realize just how important the subject was. There are still days, weeks and months where I overspend; where I lose sight of our goals and the big picture. What can I say, I suffer from a case of 'instant gratification syndrome.' It takes me patience and a real gut check to close out of that semi-full shopping cart of sale items from Old Navy, or to say no to another happy hour when it's the end of the month, and money is tight.
Recently, I started listening to a few of Dave's CDs as a refresher, and I have a lot more to learn and a long way to go on this journey! As I am quickly approaching 30, it is important to me to get our financial goals back into my cross hairs. There are going to be tough decisions to make, and lots of sacrifices along the way, but I know that when I look back, it will all be worth it.
Turns out that B is definitely 'The Saver,' and I and 'The Spender' who wants to save more. I guess I'm a bit of both. So, here's to holding myself accountable over the next year.
This is day 9 of 31. You can catch up on my 31 Days here.