For Richer or For Poorer
Sara: I don’t remember the circumstances, but not too long after Justin and I started dating, I told him in desperation, “You’re the only person I’ve met that is thriftier than my mother.” Of course, Justin took this as a compliment.
So when Justin and I started working on our married budget together, I had no worries. Since we’ve both been on our own for a few years, and each are successfully sticking to a budget and can stretch a dollar, I thought this task would be fairly easy. After all, think of all the money we’d save when we had only one apartment rent, utilities, and got on the same cell phone plan!
Not so fast.
Putting the budget together is probably one of the hardest things we’ve had to do as an engaged couple. While there are just two of us, money is tight by the time we put a bit in savings. Suddenly, my personal income is no longer “supplemented” with trips to the movies and the occasional meal out that Justin so generously provides. Instead, HIS money is OUR money. I knew that before we got engaged, but thought I’d feel rich. Instead, I realized how many more expenses we will have that I hadn’t thought about, like Justin’s professional organizations, his life insurance, student loans, and more.
In fairness, we decided to make our budget using only Justin’s income because we would like me to have the freedom to be a stay at home mom if I so desire after we have kids. Living on Justin’s income alone would allow us to do that without feeling like we are taking a huge pay cut if I do decide to stay home.
I guess in my dream world I thought I’d always be living the “single” life and having a healthy amount of disposable income each month. Once we have a family, after we pay for “luxuries” like housing, food, insurance, basic clothing, and transportation, there’s not much left. I feel bad because when Justin told me his take home pay, I thought it was higher and I told him such.
Justin: I felt a little unappreciated and it wounded my pride a little bit. After all, I work hard for my income. I also don’t think I was fully aware of how difficult it would be to live on my income alone as I live well within my means and do a good job of saving each month.
Sara: I didn’t mean to insinuate he wouldn’t – or couldn’t – provide for his family. I just honestly didn’t realize how quickly the paychecks go to pay bills.
While it’s just the two of us, it’s not bad. I don’t need much to be happy. Fewer “going out” dates, placing limits on my “non-essential” spending and more isn’t so bad. And yes, we’ll have an emergency fund. It’s just realizing exactly how little wiggle room there is in the budget to pay for kids on one income that scares me.
We still have yet to decide for certain if I’ll be a stay-at-home mother or if we’ll be at two-income family. We’ve been making jokes about how “poor” we are, but the truly scary thing is there are others out there that make less than we do but with more family members to support.
But perhaps that’s a portion of marriage – learning to trust in God to provide both the physical and spiritual food our family needs to survive.