I mentioned this in a previous post, but today I wanted to talk to you about our financial meetings + financial health. Why? Because it a huge part of life + let’s be honest…it’s stressful to be broke. I’ve learned so much over the past couple years about finances, so I thought why not share?!
Before starting to date Drew and moving to Madison, I was a single girl living in Chicago. I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck, but I didn’t have enough put away for emergencies or even a big move. It’s not that I wasn’t making enough, but it’s that I was spending too much. I look back at those days and see a lot of progress. I always had new clothes (okay, that was kind of awesome), fresh manicure/pedicure (awesome too), I was getting my hair colored, had the newest Lululemon tights (I mean, they were for work!), eating at Whole Foods (best Whole Foods was across the street from my Lincoln Park gym) + getting a Starbucks on the daily (I’m a reformed Gold Card member). I had zero credit card debt + I was paying all my bills…so, I kind of figured all of these luxuries were fine. Well younger Ames…you definitely could’ve had a lot more saved up to move, go back to school, and buy a house!
My dad always told me, “it doesn’t matter if you make $30,000 or $150,000 if you live right up to your means”. Essentially, people that make more than enough can still be stressed about money because they spend too much. It is a huge problem in our country + culture.
One of the reasons Drew + I love our church so much is because it is a place of honesty + they talk about the tough stuff that we go through! Money is one subject they are not afraid to address. Great message on debt here.
When we started our marriage mentoring through Blackhawk Church, it was very clear that we were going to tackle financial issues during this period. It was a good start that Drew and I were on the same page about finances (mostly, we definitely disagree on the subject of how much good quality clothes cost 😉 ), but it was still great that we had detailed questions to answer with our marriage mentors.
I always tell Drew how thankful I am for him for so many reasons, but a pretty big one is how good he is with money. Going into marriage, he said he wanted to live in a “glass house” when it came to many things including finances. This means that everything is in the open. We are a husband + wife team and what we earn is ours together not his or mine. Truthfully, I had anxiety about this concept. Before we were married, we definitely shared some expenses. Drew supported me through nursing school because we knew that we were both in it for the long haul, so it just made sense to us instead of taking out more student loans than necessary.
Once we were married + going through the process of buying our house together…it got more serious (as it should, right?). Ask my good friends from work, I was seriously nervous before our first financial meeting. Just the idea of someone knowing every little Chipotle bowl or shirt that you buy was a foreign concept. I never had that accountability before. I had my own bank accounts and credit cards, and now we shared everything. We closed all of my accounts and made all of his ours. I do still have a credit card that he doesn’t see, but we pay it at the end of the month…so, if the balance was greater than normal or expected, he does ask what I spent the money on or he can look at the statement.
How monthly financial meetings work:
Drew comes downstairs in a suit with a briefcase and asks me if I would like a water before we get started (seriously). He tells me that it just helps to set a serious tone for the talk.
We both sit down with our computers in front of us and start paying our monthly bills together. We then talk about how the month went, compare our account balances to the previous month, make a goal for next month, and look at how we are doing with our long term goals.
I asked Drew if he could write a paragraph on why these meetings are so important for our financial situation.
From the man with a plan:
“Our monthly financial meetings have helped our financial situation in many ways. This event has forced us to be more fiscally responsible by reviewing our prior month’s expenses, prioritizing future potential spending needs and wants, and setting goals to keep us on track. Financial health is important to us for the following reasons:
- The ability to be generous with our resources
- Security (to cover bills, emergencies, etc.)
- Saving for the future
- Enjoy some disposable income
Talking about all of these items on a recurring basis shapes our financial thinking and the habits that ensue. While the topic of financial health is rather serious, we make an effort to have fun with our meetings. Whether it’s me dressing in a suit, or turning our meeting into a lunch date at a coffee shop (I promise, it’s a cheap lunch), we find a way to make the time enjoyable. Ultimately, the financial reviews have evolved into a time we look forward to near the 1st of every month”.
One subject that Drew mentioned that has been coming up a lot lately is how much to give. We contribute to our church + a couple charities, but we are always focused on if we can do more. This is a huge challenge that we have been praying on. We could always do more, but we also want to focus on getting out of debt (see the above sermon on debt).
We have zero credit card debt + we are repaying my student loans at a fast pace + paying ahead on our mortgage + increasing in savings, so I leave the meetings with a clear understanding of why they are important and a renewed focus to start the next month. We are driven to meet our goals together. I understand why I don’t need some of the things that I used to spend money on.
Are we perfect with our money? Of course not. We both purchase items that we don’t need. Have I used cash to ease the blow of a Lululemon purchase or a girls dinner that seemed to be more than Drew would approve of? Yes (sorry babe, it was a while ago) 😉 When Drew read this part before writing his contribution…he said “AMY!!!!! No more cash for you!” haha.
Once a quarter we have a “no spend month”. My friends know about these because of how it changes my plans that month. Essentially, Drew + I work together at eliminating extra costs. We don’t go out to eat, we don’t shop for anything not essential, our date nights are free activities, we try not to golf or rock climb (as much). It’s a great reality check and gives us the opportunity to save more than normal. A couple of my friends have actually joined us in this because they wanted to improve their spending too.
It’s always going to be a balance. We want enjoy the fruits of our labor, but we never want to be in a position where we are stressed or fighting about money. We do want to be in a position where we have more to give.
Hope that you picked up a tip or two from this post! If you are spending too much right now, you can change…take it from me!
Have a terrific weekend everyone! Don’t spend too much 😉