Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Two Budgeteers

Ah the dreaded sit down. The moment of truth. Er...moments. The night you actually, finally, sit down as a couple and work the budget. I remember this guy I used to work with, Andre. Andre was a cool guy, and singlemindedly focused on getting a financial leg up in the world. He was a newlywed, and a devotee of Dave Ramsey. During our thirty minute lunch break he would adjourn to his car, kick back the seat, and munch on a sack lunch as he listened to Dave Ramsey on the radio. At the time, I had a significant amount of debt, and I wanted to be as disciplined as he was. He was almost out of the woods. When I asked him about his path to financial perfection, he enthusiastically regurgitated Ramseyisms. I was impressed, not just with the fact that he was doing this, but that his wife was handling it so well. The thought of being told I couldn't go shopping by a husband was enough to make my armpits sweat a little and my heart palpitate.

"Oh, there were tears," Andre chuckled a bit ruefully. "She was reeeeaaal upset about cutting her shoe shopping money off, but she got with the program." I chafed at the thought.

Let's face it. For my entire adult life, these size seven and a halfs have never felt the pinch as far as budgeting goes. I've never, ever considered not shopping. It's a sad thought, indeed.

And so far, Joe has been understanding of the fact that girls tend to cost more than boys. He seems to let it go without saying that I'll blow through some back to school dough, and then again at Christmas, and well, AGAIN at the beginning of summer. However, as we fill in our expenses on the budget spreadsheet, it becomes glaringly obvious that I am the big spender in this relationship. I cringe as I tell him how much a haircut costs. I wince as I concede that I don't need pedicures. I groan audibly when I add up the miscellaneous $2 Starbucks charges to find out that I have literally drunk $14 dollars a week--and they aren't even alcoholic!

The thing is, I have always been a "yes" person. Yes, I want to go out. Yes, I want a cute new skirt I don't need. Yes, I want to go to the Lady Gaga concert even though I can't stand her. Yes, yes, yes....I love the sound of the word. I like new experiences and doing fun things. I believe in the power of "yes".

Joe is a "no" man. The reality check. While some people might find this to be confining, I need that system of checks and balances. It's important we keep our goals in mind. It's important to realize that Starbucks doesn't grow on trees. He and I work toward a common goal, and I know that if I continue to buy whatever I want, we may never get into a house.

And I want a house! I want one badly enough that I now have to think before I spend, and that sucks a little bit. However, I also feel a sense of freedom in being able to say "no" to myself a little more. While I squirm at the idea of asking someone else if they're okay with me purchasing something, it also speaks to the fact that I'm not in this alone anymore. Consideration for my teammate, and vice versa, is part of this deal I signed up for.


  1. As someone who has been on a severe budget for the past two years, I can tell you that there is some joy in it. It's comforting to see your savings grow and you'll find that somethings you spent money on before really are not worth it. For example, I almost never spend money on starbucks and fastfood anymore... and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    Your home and your family will be well worth denying yourself some items or events that are ultimately insignificant to you. The hard part is going to be having your friends/family adapt to your new lifestyle. Be prepared for backlash!

    BTW - I forgot what a talented writer you are! I'm looking forward to reading more!

  2. Nick and I are all about Dave Ramsey as well! It was hard at first..but it gets better and more second nature the more you do it!

  3. OMG - The Ramseyisms!! Not that I have a problem with The DR Way, but it is hard to want to partake in a plan with someone that only touts the ramseyisms, but doesn't live by them. There is one big truth from DR - one person will be the spender and one will be the spreadsheet/budget person. I love my spreadsheets!!