I’ve come a long way with money.
The other day I bought ice cream that wasn’t on sale and I watched my husband’s jaw drop.
I wish this was an exaggeration, but it’s the sad truth.The Dutch catch flack for being tight, and it looks like my wooden-shoed ancestors passed these traits straight to me.
But being thrifty lost its thrill and turned into anxiety after my husband and I got married.
We were young, trying to find jobs that paid the bills and had a nice stack of student debt hanging over our heads. Each purchase registered in my mind as another day we would be paying on our loans and another day we would be “behind” in life. I felt a little like I was always being pulled down and help back by money (like the image above).
We are both hard workers and definitely not frivolous spenders, but the thought of going out to dinner would make me anxious, as I would search for coupons or Groupons to put my mind at ease. The anxiety made me miserable at times– consuming fun evenings out and taking the thrill away from events I felt broke the bank.
My money stress was causing unnecessary friction between my husband and me, and keeping us from enjoying date nights and other activities together. Even the simple purchase of a necessary item could ignite an argument and result in me lecturing on how we needed to save.
My husband patiently put up with me through this season of life as he tried to calm my nerves about how we would pay the bills; assuring me we were always financially stable. I don’t think I ever really thought we wouldn’t be, but I wanted to be as cheap as possible, allowing us to dig ourselves out of school debt in record time.
I’m being honest about my craziness because I think it’s the other side of the story that doesn’t often get told. Most people are writing about how to stop spending, but I needed to learn how to start spending—smartly, of course—but I needed to learn how to breathe and budget.
With my husband’s help I began to see my financial expectations were out of this world. We would pay off our loans eventually, but I needed to step back and look at the bigger picture of our finances and life. Once I saw the realistic timelines and possible budget, I was able to breathe. I also began to understand how my behavior was actually making things worse. Example: Purchasing cheap tires only to replace them again in a few years…and the list goes on.
Prior to looking at money from a more holistic and healthy way, I used to think budgeting meant not spending at all. Thankfully, now I understand budgeting is more about the smart allocation of spending, in moderation and not pinching every, single penny.
My husband and I have our own set of financial guidelines we live by to help us manage our money. If one of us plans to purchase something that costs more than $200, we have agreed to call and talk it through before we make the purchase. We communicate our expenses and our expectations of how we want to spend our “fun” money. It may not be much, but creating “fun” money in our budget, allows me to see it as a part of our life and not a waste. We also set financial goals for the year, and budget in future events we know are going require extra spending.
Being “cheap” is in my blood, and, to an extent, it will probably always be there, but today I have a much healthier view on money and finances.
What are some financial guidelines you and your spouse live by?
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