This post is a unique one because my husband helped me write it. Go, team!
My husband and I are excited to say that we are 100% debt-free. In our first year of marriage, we paid off my student loans (about $20K by the time we got married), his car loan ($21K with 0% interest), and a few dollars we owed my sister! We are now in the process of saving money toward our emergency fund, and after that, we will start putting money toward a down payment for a house.
As many Christian couples that have gone before us, we have learned a lot from the teachings of Dave Ramsey, as well as from Christians around us who are good at budgeting. We are thankful for their wisdom, and ultimately, for the wisdom that God has provided for us during our newlywed stage.
Here are some quick tips that have helped us to find financial freedom as a couple:
- Evaluate your priorities. As a couple, we’ve had to make some hard decisions together about our spending. Do we use our wedding money to pay off student loans, or to buy a house? Do we save for a house, or do we go on vacation? Wherever we choose to spend our money demonstrates our priorities. Even while looking for jobs, we’ve had to ask ourselves: would we rather be making six figures, or would we rather be together as a family? Unfortunately, the world does not promise us both. We often have to pick between long hours of overtime and spending quality time with our loved ones. We’ve clearly chosen the latter; we’ve both decided that we never want work to come before our marriage, even if that means making less money.
- Tithe. Along with priorities, in our marriage, our priority is to give glory to God and to serve Him above anyone else. We have chosen to love God first, then each other, and then our family, and then everyone else. That pattern of love is the way we make every decision, including with our finances. We honor God by giving Him the first-fruits of our income, not the last bits of crumbs, if there’s even any left! We have seen God bless our marriage and bless our finances through our decision to honor Him with the money that He has given us.
- Make a budget. Sit down together and make a budget that works for both of you. One thing we’ve learned from Dave Ramsey is to assign every dollar that you make to an item on your budget. The money shouldn’t just sit in your bank account. It should have a purpose, and you and your spouse should have control over it.
- Stick to the plan: This is the point that my husband wanted to add. If you don’t stick to the plan, then you’ll just get right back into debt. Plain and simple. These are the wise words from my husband!
- Have open communication: Today, I got a check for $10. Ten. Dollars. That’s it. But I still sent a message to my husband to let him know about it and to let him know what I was going to do with it. Part of sticking to the plan is to talk about what money is spent, what money is taken in, and what money is being saved. We can talk about what is working in our budget and what needs to be adjusted. We don’t hide any money from each other, and we don’t make any major purchases without talking about them.
- Make it fun: My husband and I have truly enjoyed saving our pennies together. We have found fun and creative ways to save money each day. In the beginning of our marriage, we would go out to eat in order to have fun. Just yesterday, our date night involved learning how to play the guitar together by watching videos on YouTube (for free!). When we went out to eat on Friday, we tried to see what little things we could change to our meal to lower the cost; we ended up sharing a drink and the fries. It can be fun coming home after a day together and still having money in our pockets.
I am thankful to God that my husband and I are a team. Since we do everything together, we are able to celebrate our personal victories together. That includes becoming debt-free and saving money toward bigger things.
Make the decision today to trust God with your finances and to work toward your financial goals as a team with your spouse.