Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we’re talking about finances. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
My husband and I were raised in families that had similar outlooks on money. Neither one of us grew up particularly well-off or “rich,” and both of us were accustomed to having to earn our own money to buy the things we wanted. We were also incredibly fortunate to enter into our marriage covenant free from student debt thanks to the diligence and dedication of our parents.
You’d think that growing up with similar backgrounds, and being on pretty equal footing when it came to our personal finances when we got married, we’d be on the same page money-wise. You’d be wrong.
Money + Marriage
In reality, we had very different outlooks on finances. My husband was a hardcore “saver” and preferred adding to his savings account over buying new things.
Although I tried to deny it, I was definitely a “spender,” never spending beyond my means or taking on debt in order to shop, but really enjoying the rush that a new article of clothing or home decor item would bring.
Get on the Same Page
One of the very first things we did as a married couple was take a finance class. I am so thankful for that class, offered by the parish we attended at the time, for helping my husband and I to truly get on the same page when it came to our personal finances.
Together, we dug deep and learned things about ourselves that made a huge impact on how we viewed money. We learned that it’s super common for one spouse to be the saver and one to be the spender, and how to reconcile those differences. We cut up credit cards and vowed to get debt-free as soon as possible. We reflected on what the Bible had to say about tithing, and made a commitment to offering a full 10% of our income back to the Lord as a tithe.
I cannot recommend Financial Peace University enough as a starting place for your finances, whether you’re drowning in debt, killing the savings game, or just starting out and have no idea what to focus on first.
Learn and grow in our Faith and love for the Lord.
Make a Budget
Regardless of whether or not you’re able to take a finance class, the best thing you can do as a couple is to make a budget each month. The word “budget” usually brings up images of rice and beans and secondhand clothes. But in reality, a budget is simply a plan for where your money is going to go! Sitting down together to map out where you want and need to spend money each month is super important.
I’ve come to love our monthly “budget meetings,” where we look at the calendar and figure out every possible thing we need to budget for that month. Are we going on a date night? Do the kids need any clothes? Do we have any gifts to buy? By sitting down to talk about our finances, we end up talking about so much more and I end up feeling like we’re truly on the same page when it comes to our calendar and commitments as well as our budget!
There are some great tools out there for creating budgets, and it’s worthwhile to play around with a few to figure out what works best for you. From old-school pencil and paper, to fancy excel spreadsheets with formulas, to an app like Mint, YNAB (You Need A Budget), or EveryDollar, there are lots of options out there.
The important thing is to get down on paper (or in electronic form) how much income you’re bringing in, and ensuring that your expenses (including bills, savings, debt payments and anything you spend money on) does not exceed that income.
Get Comfortable with Compromise
It’s important to point out that neither the “spender” nor the “saver” mentality is superior when it comes to finances within marriage. God gives us all unique personalities and dispositions and that is a beautiful thing! If you and your spouse are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to spending versus saving, it offers a great opportunity for compromise and “dying to self” which is what marriage is all about!
My husband has said many times that thanks to my outlook, we’ve spent money on things or experiences that he never would have if it were just up to him. He’s glad for my nudging to be a little more “spendy.”
On the flip side, there have been countless times when I wanted to impulsively spend money on something and, even though we had the money to do it, my husband advised waiting and holding out to see if we could get a better deal or simply changed our minds. Thanks to his patience and steadfastness in our savings goals, he’s saved us from a lot of unwise purchases and financial headaches throughout our seven years of marriage!
Like with Everything in Marriage, Communication is Key
Talking about money—really talking about it—simply offers another opportunity to get to know each other’s heart, grow in love for one another, and strive for holiness as you seek to honor the Lord and abide by His will for you and your money, together.
If you want more on the Church’s rich teachings on these engaging topics, our best-selling study, “Blessed Conversations: Rooted,” dives into the Catechism’s teachings and now offers a video companion series along with it featuring Theological Editor Susanna Spencer and Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Get it here.