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Our Financial Relationship

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Our Financial Relationship

Chris and I met at the very beginning of my Freshman (his Sophomore) year of college – the end of August 2002.

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Obviously we had some similarities, lol!

We started dating shortly thereafter.

By 2005, we were moving into our first (TINY and BARE) apartment together. Remember? This was from our pre-debt days!

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From the beginning, I kind of took control of the financial aspect of our relationship. I am naturally drawn toward budgeting and saving and him….not so much. We made enough to survive just fine as long as I was in control, and I was even able to save up money so we were able to go on fancy vacations…

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Dominican Republic, All-inclusive resort, Circa 2006

 

…and do lots of fun things, all while paying cash!

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Floating the Guadalupe River one summer

 But then we moved away so I could go to graduate school and, well, we all know how well that went (read:  DEBT-CITY).

Fast-forward to present day.

My husband is the primary earner in our relationship right now. Unless I get a full time job sometime, it is likely to stay this way for awhile. However, he’s not great with money. So I am the primary money-spender in our relationship (in terms of budgeting, paying bills, etc.). The way we make this work is a little different than most people I know….

First, I don’t know exactly how much my husband makes. Don’t get me wrong – I’m involved in paying our taxes so I’m not completely out in the dark. But he has a variable income and on a week-to-week basis I don’t know exactly how much he has made.

How do we pay our bills?

Well, we have talked about and agreed on a budget so Chris always knows how much we need in order to survive and pay our debt obligations. If he’s having a particularly bad month (given that his income is variable), then he’ll give me as much as he possibly can – almost everything (post-tax) that he made. He does keep some money, but basically just enough to put gas in his work truck and have a little in his bank for business expenses (he does hard-wood floors, so he often has to buy supplies for a job prior to actually getting paid for the job).

On months that he does really well, he gives me above average of his “norm,” but I know he also keeps a little extra for himself. How much exactly? I don’t know.

I know many of my friends would hate this type of situation. They feel it is somehow dishonest or unfair for him to not share his exact earnings and give me every penny he makes so I can manage it.

But that would just never work for us. We have been together since 2002. There have been times in our relationship where I was the primary earner and, therefore, I was in control of almost all the money. It was a time of great stress and marital discord (well, we weren’t married yet, but you get the idea). Sure, we could pay off our debt a bit sooner if he were to give me 100% of his paycheck. But that would also, in a way, equate to castrating him (at least in his eyes). He can’t handle making all this money, giving it all to me, and then having to ask for some back and justify if he wants to buy fast food for lunch one day (as an example).

Writing this blog is a funny thing. I have already received SO MUCH great advice (thank you!!!). And, naturally, I go to my husband and talk about the things I have learned, as it impacts our family spending and budget. So in a way, “you” (the collective readers and commenters) have become a third person in our relationship. We discuss what you say, weigh the information, and try to make informed decisions as a result.

Prior to starting on this debt-reduction journey I discussed the potential ramifications with my husband. One think I thought you readers would push us on was revising this current financial situation. There are SO MANY different ways to handle finances. Why don’t we both get a small “allowance” or agree that he can keep “X” amount per week for blow money. But that number should be named, right?

Well, that’s great in theory, but it just hasn’t worked in real life.

And you know what????

I’m perfectly satisfied with our current financial relationship.

I know when he’s got a little extra money from a big job because he may show up with a new pair of shoes, but just as frequently he’ll use the money to spoil us by taking us out to eat, picking up a movie, or even running to the grocery store on his dime (rather than coming out of the budget).

I won’t argue that it might not be the best way to use our resources. If he gave me all his money, I would be able to allocate more toward debt each month and reach our goals sooner. But then my husband would be miserable. And you know the saying “happy wife, happy life”??? I think it equally well applies to husbands ; )

So I’m sure there will be many readers who will disagree with this type of relationship (like I said – I’m sure many of my own FRIENDS would disagree with it). But it works for us. And money remains one of the top reasons for divorce. So, as long as we are both comfortable and happy with our current relationship then I think that’s a really important factor. Even above the extra month or two that we could pay off debt early, had I been receiving 100% of his money. You can’t put a price on marital happiness.

 

Does anyone else have an interesting financial relationship? How do you and your partner handle finances?


Matt’s Debt Introduction

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Note: Matt has put together this introductory post in his quest to become the next blogger on BAD. Feel free to make comments or ask questions on what he’s written. More information about the new blogger position can be found here

Hi! My name is Matt and I’d like to start by telling the world why I want out of this debt-ridden lifestyle: I hate the financial prison it’s held me in since graduating from college in 2009. My reason for being out of debt is primarily for selfish reasons (until I have a wife and potential family); I would love the freedom of knowing I have more options than living a “9-5”, “5 day a week” lifestyle for 40+ years before retiring and only then realizing I would be too old to enjoy it. That being said, I enjoy what I do and love my employer, which at least makes my debt burden a little lighter.

I graduated from college, with a BS in mechanical engineering, into one of the worst job markets this economy has ever seen. Thankfully, I was able to find a position in the public sector (only 1/2 my graduating class could say they found a job in our field immediately upon graduation, and some still haven’t). Unfortunately, this is where most of my debt lies- from a higher education that may or may not have been worth the price of admission. I currently have ~87K in student loans, which are down from the ~110K I started with. I have since switched positions to the private sector (bringing home $3,200 a month), bought a (used) car, bought some furniture on a credit card (paid off) and took on a mortgage. I owe ~10.5K on the car and ~71.5K on the mortgage.

The burden I put on myself didn’t hit me until my first payment on the student loans came due and while I was doing what I could to pay off my debts as quickly as I could on my minimal government salary, I fought (for the better part of two years) with the realization that it all could have been avoided. I could have paid attention to the money I was “spending” and went to a state school. I could have not gone to school at all. I also spent the last 4 years on a financial roller coaster either paying off debt, quickly, with little regard of anything or anyone else and spending money as if a pending apocalypse were approaching (to an extent. I don’t use credit cards so I could only spend the cash I had in various accounts.) But now, knowing there’s 1,000’s of young adults in the same position as myself, I own my debt and I’m not afraid of telling anyone who’s willing to listen of my situation. I’ve always felt honesty is the best policy- I use this in my day job and I would use it here.

I currently live in a small metropolitan with low living costs with my wonderful girlfriend of 1.5 yrs (we met on OK Cupid) and our ‘children’- 2 of the most loving, wonderful rescue dogs in the world. In my spare time I love outdoor activities including surfing, mountain biking, longboarding, and golf and love playing my guitar (which I do everyday). Debt tracking and budgeting have also quickly become some of my favorite things to do. Watching those debt totals fall may be the closest to nirvana I’ll ever come.

I became inspired in September after reading BAD, Mr. Money Mustache, and Man vs. Debt to get rid of debt for good, come hell or high water. Since my epiphany, I’ve paid off 5K of debt, built an emergency fund of 5K and increased my net worth by 15K. I’m hoping that I can build even more steam with the help I’ll get here.


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