When I think back to our first year of marriage, it’s quite obvious that we learned A LOT of valuable lessons that year. However, the one lesson that I think was most valuable for us (or at least in the top three!) — and a lesson that can help set couples up for the most success in growing closer to each other that first year of marriage — is understanding finances. Yes, I said finances! And specifically, understanding how each of you VIEW finances and how you both want your finances to work in your marriage.
In today’s Marriage Monday post, I want to share the three biggest financial lessons we learned our first year of marriage. These lessons helped us to create a plan that now allows us to pursue our financial goals as a couple. So let’s get right to it!
1. Numbers Don’t Lie
The one thing I love about finances (and numbers in general) is that they don’t lie. When we got married, we sat down with the numbers (aka our bank accounts and the money we were each bringing to the table). We didn’t have a lot of it and we also had a little bit of debt.
When we looked at this reality as newlyweds, we had two choices:
- Be unhappy with our situation, complain about it, and allow it to define us or
- Accept our reality and allow it to motivate us to make changes.
We opted for option number two, choosing a culture of honesty with one another around our finances. We shared about our experiences with money growing up, our dreams for our future, and our current reality (more on HOW to talk through these questions in this post!). We established core values around our finances that, no matter how much or little we had, we could always hold fast to.
2. Create a Budget
I have always been a man with a budget and so naturally, I brought one into the marriage (Maison on the other hand, not so much). However, something my budget lacked was purpose and without purpose, the budget always just seemed to be numbers on a page. Now that we knew our goals (after honestly discussing those numbers and our reality!), we could get excited about sitting down with our numbers and finding a specific place for EVERY dollar.
We’ve had a lot of fun using a free budgeting app called Mint. Mint allows you to set specific categories for your budget and automatically tracks your credit and debit card transactions (it even predicts what category transactions fall under and gets smarter as you use it!!). Without having something to hold you both accountable, it’s easy to spend money without purpose.
3. Know Your Role
Coming into our marriage, I was naturally a saver and Maison was naturally a spender. It’s important, especially as a saver, to note that neither is good and neither is bad — in moderation. After a few confrontations with these differing viewpoints, we were able to recognize a pattern. I would find himself getting mad any time Maison wanted to spend money and Maison would feel hurt that I wasn’t valuing her opinion regarding OUR finances. By recognizing this pattern, we were able to step outside of it and help each other see our unhealthy relationship with money (this wasn’t always easy but you must lay your stubbornness aside) and instead create a healthy financial situation that serves our MARRIAGE — not just Maison or just me.
I hope these financial lessons that we learned early in our marriage can benefit or encourage you regardless of your financial or relational situation! We want you to know that we aren’t perfect and make financial mistakes all the time, but by choosing to show up and be honest, no matter how painful, we are able to show each other that we value our MARRIAGE over money.