Money has been such a taboo topic to talk about. I was raised that talking about money is a no no, and then once I entered corporate America that even further got confirmed by never discussing how much you make. Being an HR professional I completely understand to an extent of why its not good to discuss money. (However, I do think that allows companies the opportunity to underpay women more easily. But don’t get me started on that, I’ll save that for another blog). One thing I will never understand is why so many people don’t discuss money openly and honestly. I truly believe if more people talked openly and honestly about money, they can help other avoid making money mistakes they’ve encountered in the past. People really do have similar money journeys, and I am sure if we all worked together we could help each other thrive more!
Growing up I cannot really recall having conversations on how to handle money properly. The only thing I remember is my mom stating to me “when you are an adult you gotta do good with your money.” Yet, no lessons or discussion on how to exactly do that. I actually didn’t learn about credit until at college and credit companies were approaching me about opening up a credit card. Yikes. This is one of the reasons why we are very transparent with our boys about money. We teach them money principles, help them handle their chore money correctly, and teach them the importance of saving.
Let me say, this is not a bash session for my parents, because they did the best they could. I also know that when you are in a state of struggling financially you may not be in the mindset to school the next generation on how to do better. ALSO, I fully believe that many people are never taught money, and still do great with finances. So I refuse to use this as an excuse. I OWN 1000% the mistakes I made as an adult. I am just sharing how my relationship with money started.
I quickly got into debt in college, trying to be the hottest chick on campus. I initially was on top of paying everything timely; that slowly went away. I didn’t understand the true value in paying everything on time, and how that will effect your credit and future. It became a slippery slope. I also was a waitress in college, that isn’t the easiest to learn how to budget your money.
Rick grew up with parents that always did great with finances. However, he didn’t continue to hold the torch. Mixed with Rick is naturally a procrastinator which will cause major issues when resolving money problems. When we got together, we never talked money. We didn’t learn our strengths or weaknesses. That is the first issue, when you start dating anyone seriously, it’s time to discuss finances and money habits. If you are not married yet, have those conversations early on, you want to have a clear picture of your possible future spouses financial situation.
We went through life not really having proper communication, lots of arguing, overdrafts, and always with money issues. I will say that majority of the money issues we faced were 90% avoidable.
Rick and I early on in marriage fought a lot, and money was the source. We bumped heads, and even sometimes felt we were on different teams. We then had to seek counseling and get serious about how to repair our marriage and finances. One thing to remember when facing money arguments. Your spouse is not your enemy, and even if they have a different way of doing things it doesn’t make you good and them bad. Take the time to learn your strengths and weaknesses so you can play up each of your strengths.
– Not coordinating paying bills together
– Avoiding tough money conversations
– Paying bills late
– Not having a budget
– Not opening mail timely
– Too much shopping
Then to add to it we didn’t well paying jobs. I was just entering HR starting very entry level. Rick was transitioning from leaving the mortgage industry and into a new career. We felt as soon as we got paid we were already broke. Living paycheck to paycheck. Not thriving at all. We had created blemishes on our credit which made it difficult to even start thinking about buying a home, and really much of anything.
This is when we decided we needed a change and to go on a new journey and move to Dallas, TX. Once we got here things started looking up for us. We were getting in better paid positions. Most importantly, we had committed to repairing our finances. We were tired of struggling honestly. We were tired of fighting.
Once we made that commitment we never looked back. We still have a journey ahead of us and not nearly where our ultimate goal is, but we have made a lot of progress.
I know there are many people are starting out or thinking about repairing their finances. This is why I am committed to talking more openly about finances. If there is anything I can help with on your journey I will share. This blog will be the first of many more money posts.
We learned about this at one of our church’s couples conferences. This has been such a key factor to our success working together. Having your finances jointly is not easy. I handle money differently than Rick. What we have learned that one hand must always know what the other is doing, so communication is key. Family business meeting are designated times to talk about the family operations and finances. We put it on our schedule, and that allows us both to be mentally prepared for talking finances. We go through our budget, talk about any discrepancies, go through out family schedules, and check in on goals. These meetings have helped us work together effectively. You can do it weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
I know this may sound simple, but for us this was a baby step that was very impactful. We had bills nearing collections that we just didn’t know about because we weren’t opening our mail. Set a reminder to have your mail day. We actually go through a lot of our mail during our Family Business Meeting. It is silly to have bills be past due simply because you avoided it. Part of good money handling is to be proactive.
Making a budget is the most important and most impactful thing you can do for your finances. Creating a budget should not scare you, it is meant to allow you to live comfortably without the worry of how to pay your bills. This essentially maps our where all your money goes, and eliminates how you will pay for anything. The key component on this is actively following it. We check in on our budget weekly. If you don’t know where to start, you can check out Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar app. This is a budgeting app. We use a google spreadsheet to for our budgeting, but we may explore moving it to an app. We are still indifferent on this. I will dive into the budget in a future post, but definitely a crucial step.
I believe that it is a good habit to not always feel like you have to spend money. Even if you are great with finances I think everyone should have spending breaks. I used to be an over spender, so this was important that I broke that habit of always needing to spend money. Rick and I used to have no-spend months where we only paid for essential items and of course paid our bills. This helped us get in the habit of being in control of our money, instead of our money being in control of us. We still regularly have no spend weeks.
This applies to more than financial. Who are the people in your circle? Are they motivating you to be better? Or are they advocating for you to charge up that card and not go after leveling up? I am not saying drop those friends, but you definitely want to also be in community with people that motivate and inspire you to be better. I love having someone I can look to that inspires me to grow, challenges me to push moving ahead. I love being motivated to go to the next level.
I am a huge proponent of setting goals in every aspect of life. We started putting together clear financial goals that we wanted to achieve. We made monthly and yearly goals to start out. Initially we didn’t put together a 5 and 10 year plan. We wanted to get out of the weeds first, and then put that together. Some of our monthly goals were to save a certain amount per pay check. Eliminate this x amount on eating out. You want to set realistic goals that you can achieve. Setting lofty goals that are hard to hit may discourage you early on. Be fair to yourself. Some of our annual goals were to have a certain amount of debt paid off, and have x amount in the savings. Before getting our house that was also a goal of ours that we were so excited to achieve. We regularly do check ins on our goals to ensure we are on pace to hit them.
As I’ve gotten older I realize more and more how learning and growing is so crucial to your life. Grab a book, download an audio book. Listen to a podcast. Challenge yourself monthly to get more educated in finances. Sometimes we make money mistakes, because we simply don’t know the correct way to handle it. I encourage you to continuously get more knowledgeable in financial literacy. Right now, I am trying to understand the world of investing.
This is already on my list to dive in deeper, but if you are in debt (like many Americans). Pause adding more debt. I can tell you it has never felt better to pay off our credit card debt. It felt so freeing, and like we finally got in control of our finances. If you have debt, it will require you to be diligent, disciplined, and it will be painful to push through. But before you start diving into paying off debt. The first step is simply not resorting to adding more debt (If you can help it). I will share more detail in a later blog on what we did to pay off debt.
These are habits that we quickly adopted that helped us start going on the journey to rebuild and repair. I will not minimize this and act like it is easy to rebuild. It takes work and patience, but once you start seeing progress it will be so encouraging. Trust the process, keep at it, and know that it will pay off in the end.
We have mismanaged our money, and truly are pleased with the progress we have made thus far. I am excited to continue to share our journey with you. If there are any topics you would like me to cover. Comment below!