Hi Friends! My husband and I have paid off more than $20,000 in debt and I want to share how we went from fighting over money to enjoying discussing our budget.
In this article, I will discuss
- Money and marriage
- Financial accounts
- Creating a budget
- Emergency Money
- Paying off debt
Marriage and Money
When I married my husband, we were lost about where to start with our money. Do we keep separate accounts? Do we merge our accounts? Should bills be paid separately or do we open a joint account and move money to pay bills?
So many different options and very little advice to help us navigate the situation, led to many arguments. It seemed so silly that we could not figure this out!
I finally had it with our arguments and trying many different solutions that did not work for us. Not the same thing will work for every couple. I do believe you need to try different solutions and determine what method works best for your marriage and finances.
Being in debt no doubt hurts a marriage. Regardless if you are a spender or saver, you both should be focused on being debt-free and saving for retirement.
We have one more credit card bill to pay off, we are happy, and feeling confident about our financial future.
We learned the hard way to buy something we want, we need to have the cash!
After being married four years, we finally landed on a process that works and I am going to share it with you.
Our Financial Accounts
Here are the accounts that worked for us:
We have one checking account where we deposit income from our full-time jobs and all bills are paid out of this account.
Notice how many times I mention “we” because this is not a “me” thing! I have a partner and he is involved in this process too!
What if something happened to me and my partner had no idea what was going on with our financials and bills? He would be lost and be on the phone trying to figure it all out. That seems like it would be really frustrating.
We make our budget using this checking account.
Both of us also have our own individual accounts. This allows us to have our own pool of money that we can use any way we want.
One of the reasons we were arguing all the time was because 1. We were in debt and 2. I see my husband spending money on stuff that made me mad. He contributed to the income so why was I mad he was spending some of the money? It was because we did not have a budget and we were not telling our money what to do.
Opening our own accounts allows us to buy whatever we want without prying eyes. We budget the money that is deposited into our individual accounts and move it every month. We get the same amount every month.
If we want to purchase something outside of this money, there is a conversation and a decision made together!
This is a must! Everyone needs to have a savings account with emergency funds. You can start by adding a little each paycheck, but I think $5000 is a good cushion to have while paying off debt.
Why $5000? I think of everything we have had gone wrong that contributed to us going into debt and it was anywhere from $2000 – $5000.
You can look at your own life and calculate what you think would be the appropriate amount. The goal is to be able to cover the cost of an expense while you are on your debt-free journey.
At the end of each month, an assessment is made to determine how much we can move to the savings account and contribute towards our debt.
Creating a Budget
I have created The Ultimate Boss Budget Workbook using the system I am going to discuss.
You can purchase The Ultimate Boss Budget Workbook on my Etsy shop by selecting the text below.
Each month I create a budget using the following steps:
- Start at the beginning of the month. List all planned bills for the month, the amount, and the due date
- Determine any unplanned bills, estimate the amount, and the due date
- Put all this on a calendar – the billing name and the amount due on the date the bill is due. This helps me keep track of when the bill will be taken from our checking account. I use the Cozi application to track all our bills. The Ultimate Boss Budget Workbook has a fillable PDF calendar for every month that you can use or you can download the Cozi app.
- At the end of the month move extra money to save and pay off the extra debt that was in our budget.
- Track your savings and debt journey on a calendar. I have included a tracker for both in The Ultimate Boss Budget Workbook.
I also include budget tips in the Ultimate Boss Budget Workbook so check it out!
Paying off debt
Paying off debt is hard when your incoming funds are as much as your bills. You will need to sit down with your partner and assess what is important. Do you need memberships, cable, or subscriptions?
I called and lowered our cable bill, insurance, and got rid of gym memberships. If either of us wanted to keep a subscription it was deducted from our individual account.
You need more income than debt to start building a savings plan and pay off debt. If your house or car payment takes up a huge chunk, then you need to reassess your choices. Downsize but do what you need to create the income you need to make a difference.
If you have a hobby, consider a side hustle. Here are some side hustle examples that can provide extra income:
- Freelance editor, writing, or graphic designer
- Retail store
- Uber driver
- Deliver groceries
- Pet sitter
- Virtual assistant
You need to have savings! Sell your stuff and put the money in savings. Once you have paid off your debt, you can use that money to put into your savings account. The rule is to have three months of income in your savings account.
After going through this pandemic that has now lasted a couple of months, you can see why having three months of income in savings is important.
One of my favorite books is The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley. This was a game-changer!
It provides a look into how ordinary people are living as millionaires and their neighbors have no idea! The book interviews these people and how they lived their lives and got to where they are today. You should check it out!
I do not want to work my entire life. I want to retire and not be tied to a nine to five job! Don’t you? I think we all do but if you are spending your money, how are you ever going to retire?
Before you spend money, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need or want this?
- If I do not buy this will I survive?
- What purpose will this thing serve in my life?
- Will this item enhance my life?
- Do I have the money (cash) to make this purchase?
If spending money results in debt, is not a need, and does not serve your life – GUESS WHAT > you do not need it!
Take that money and put it in your savings or retirement account. Want to go out to eat? Eat at home and put the money you would have spent in a savings/retirement account. Do this with everything that results in debt, is not a need, and does not serve your life and see how much you have at the end of the year!
Make a date with your partner and tell me about your success stories. I wish you all the best in getting your finances in order.