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For Your Marriage

Meet Sara and Justin. They married in June 2011, they welcomed their first child in August 2012.

Money Talk

Sara: Recently, I read a blog post that contemplated what to do when you are a saver who is married to a spender.

As I read through the post, I began to reflect on the changes in Justin and my attitudes and feelings towards money over the years. Although we are celebrating our two year wedding anniversary next week, we have known each other for five years and have been pretty transparent with money discussions throughout our entire relationship.

Justin is definitely the saver in our relationship, and compared to him, I’m the “spender.” However, I too like to save money. For us, it’s been helpful to have a written budget so we feel free to spend some of the money on things like occasionally going out to eat, clothing, and date night. Otherwise, it’s easy to say that we can just wait another week or two to do these things and then never do them!

Justin: I think many people look at a written budget as taking away their freedom, but my favorite thing about living on a written budget is that that it frees me to spend money. Left to my natural instincts, I tend to be an over saver. The best thing about being on a written budget is that if we get to the end of the month and we want to go out to dinner, we can simply look at the amount of money left in the entertainment budget. If we have enough, then we can go! I don’t have to worry about the cost or if we can afford it. We have prayed about our budget and it gives me permission.

Sara: It’s also been helpful to have shared dreams for the money we save and the sacrifices we make. Before getting pregnant with Gus, I very rarely bought things used. Since I was working full-time and commuting an hour each way to work, I felt I had more money than time. Now, because I value being able to stay at home with Gus (and being able to see his first steps the other week), I know I have to find ways to save money versus buying everything new. Just this weekend, we found the coolest play tent and tunnel for Gus at a garage sale. I’ve never seen Gus have so much fun with a toy. The added bonus is that it has managed to distract Gus from climbing on our fireplace!

Right now, both Justin and I are satisfied with our budget. However, it has taken a number of long, hard discussions to get this point. When we were engaged and first married, it was especially difficult to determine how we were going to spend and save our money. Ultimately, we both had to realize that there are some things that are more important to me and some things that are more important to Justin.

For instance, we recently discovered we are no longer able to view our CBS network on our television. Since Justin is a sports fanatic, he is very disappointed about not being able to watch football games at home this year.

Personally, I don’t place much value on the ability to watch the football games except I know it is important to Justin to be able to view the games. He reminded me that my excitement towards our ability to watch football games is the same as his joy (or lack of) when I wanted to buy a china cabinet. However, in both situations, we allowed the person who wanted the item the freedom to research our options before we’d discuss how we wanted to proceed. We may choose to get a small cable package, or we may choose to budget so we can go out and watch the game for the three or four weeks the Alabama games are on CBS.

Justin: One of the most difficult tasks during our marriage preparation was the completion of a budget and specifically determining how we would tithe. We were both firmly committed to tithing, but we each had deep connections to specific organizations. For instance, I had several Catholic campus ministries that were very important to me. Sara had no connection to these however. Ultimately, talking about the budget allowed the use of money to be an opportunity for greater union as Sara has come to share a greater passion for many of my causes and I for her causes.

Sara: I’m grateful Justin and I have reached the point where we can easily communicate about these matters!