Financial Peace Will Save My Marriage

peace Pic

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Peace.

It’s a word that’s been stuck my head. It all started with a post I read last week in which the author described how budgeting brought peace to her marriage. The title stirred something inside me.  A simple, but powerful word, that for some reason seemed to continuously pop into my mind over the weekend.

Friday evening we were trying to decide what to do for dinner. None of the options left on our meal planning list sounded very good to the family. In a moment of frustration as my stomach growled, I suggested we go out to eat.

“Not before we do our budget,” Vonnie stated.

Friday was payday, bills were paid, and I had calculated the amount of discretionary funds we had for the following two weeks. We quickly mapped out a spending plan, and hopped in the car. On our way to dinner, we stopped at an ATM to withdraw cash for the weekend’s entertainment spending. We both knew how how much we were going to spend, and on what. There would be no arguing about how much money we had, or where it went.

I felt at peace knowing we had a plan for the weekend.

When the bill for dinner came, Vonnie asked me for the total. I told her the amount, and while it was in range of what we had projected for the meal, she expressed surprised at the percentage of our weekend entertainment budget it represented. We recapped our spending plan, and reassured ourselves that we were on track.

I thought back to how conversations like this would progress in the past. This time was different. My heart wasn’t beating out of my chest as I was forced to scramble and make something up to make things appear better than they were.  My mind didn’t have to race to try to figure out some credit card I could utilize to increase our funds for the weekend.

There was just truthfulness, and peace.

Saturday afternoon we did our meal planning for the week, and made a grocery list. I went to the store armed with our list, a calculator, and a budgeted amount for groceries. My phone rang several times while I was going through the store with requests to add a few items to the list. After everything was in the cart, the calculator showed we would be about $20 over budget. I scanned the cart, made a phone call, and together we decided upon a few items that we could do without. With everything rung up, we were still about $5 over budget. I paid $5 in cash out of our weekend entertainment money, and the rest with my debit card. When I got home, I explained to Vonnie what I had done, and we easily altered our spending plan to account for the $5 grocery overage.

We decided what was purchased together, and we both knew what we had for the week. There was no argument about the items she had requested but not purchased.  The ones that in the past I would accidentally forget in an attempt reduce our grocery bill.

There was just cooperation, and peace.

After our church service on Sunday the pastor announced that a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course would start this week. While I have never taken the course, I’m familiar with some of the concepts, and the intended outcome. I thought for the first time how appropriate the name of that course is.  I thought how students not only work towards financial peace for the present and future, but how they would also gain personal peace with themselves, and in their relationship with their significant other.

On our way home we discussed stopping at a restaurant that has an exceptional special for Sunday lunch. We had exhausted our weekend entertainment funds, but after some discussion we decided to use some of the buffer we had left in our checking account. While we were eating, Vonnie suggested we recap the weekend spending and brought up the calculator on her cell phone. We went through everything, and just as we found our financial picture exactly where we thought it should be, the bill came. We subtracted the $13 for lunch from our available funds, and paid the bill.

Starting up the van I closed my eyes for just an instant.  The weekend’s events  went by in a flash. I smiled, thought again of that article, exhaled, and simply felt at peace.

The article reminded me just why Vonnie and I have worked tirelessly at our communication and handling of our finances. We’ve recently gotten caught up in the day to day business of reducing expenses and getting the most for our money. We’ve lost ourselves in the numbers, concentrating on the trees, and lost focus on the financial forest. The true goal is to prevent arguments about money which strain our relationship. We do it so that we can use that energy to build up our marriage instead of tearing it down. We do it so we can save for a future and enjoy growing old together.  Without financial peace, our relationship would certainly fail.

That’s definitely a peace worth fighting for.

About Travis

18 Responses to “Financial Peace Will Save My Marriage”

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  1. Laurie says:

    What an inspiring and encouraging post, Travis. :-). And you’re right: financial peace is worth fighting for. Even though we are just beginning on our journey, peace has already begun to sneak into our marriage, simply because now we have a plan. And I know that peace will increase with each and every passing month of success, just as it has for you guys. Congratulations on finding financial peace!

    • Travis says:

      It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it Laurie? As I was writing the post I again remembered the nights staring at the ceiling trying to figure out what I was going to do to not only provide for my family, but do it in such a manner that nobody would know what it took to do so. Ugh, so much wasted energy!

  2. Mackenzie says:

    What a great post Travis! It’s nice to hear a happy financial story 🙂 Glad you guys are on the same page financially.

    • Travis says:

      We’re getting better all the time, Mackenzie. With each incremental improvement, the weight of financial stress gets less and less. I used to dread when Vonnie would want to start a conversation about finances…..now I look forward to it because of the *positive* effects of those conversations. Thanks so much for the encouragement!

  3. anna says:

    I have to share that my DH and I have almost the same philosophy. We like to pay all of the bills, and then put money aside for expenditures. I am really glad that you guys are working together.

  4. Virgil says:

    Great story Travis, Financial Peace sure goes a long way towards marriage peace! What this also does is make you an honorary marriage counselor as when you help people with their finances you also remove a source of a lot of stress in a relationship. It’s also a good policy to have a budgeting day – sounds like yours is Friday.

    • Travis says:

      Our main spending discussions usually happen on either Thursday or Friday…..the point is to do it before we begin our weekend spending. I like your comparison to a marriage counselor! While I would never think I had the qualifications to be a counselor I certainly understand the comment. Finances is one of (if not THE) most common thing couples argue about……if only they knew how much easier things are when you take that fight out of the equation! Thanks for your comment Virgil!

  5. Kathy says:

    What a wonderful, sweet post! I especially like how you wrapped it up. My husband doesn’t read all these things, instead preferring to leave it all to me & then we discuss what to do. This post, however, I will insist he read it in full. Very powerful. As always, thanks for expressing & sharing your journey.

    P.S. – do the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class. I just wish I had found him & listened to him sooner!

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Kathy – I hope your husband enjoys the post as much as you did. 🙂 I actually thought of taking the Dave Ramsey course, but but I’m not sure if I could really follow the suggestions at the same time as being enrolled in a debt management program. But who knows, maybe I could take pieces of the program and implement them in my daily life.

      Thanks for reading, Kathy, and for your suggestion!

  6. Awesome testimony about why communication and agreement about money is so important in a marriage.

  7. Great post. Financial peace can definitely relieve stress in a relationship.

  8. Joel says:

    I love the idea of having financial peace and security. But what I haven’t seen mentioned is about the “surprise”
    expenses. One kid in college who always needs money, another one at home, a 13 y/o daughter who always needs money. This is NOT to mention her 2 nights of dance classes as well as 1 night a week in gymnastics. Let’s not forget about the orchestra trip to Six Flags, the money for a Choir shirt, money for a school yearbook. Rental for her violin, clothes for dance and recitals. Just clothes for her in general, she’s growing pretty quickly.
    Oh yes, and shoes that fit. Monthly payments for the orthodontist, and then the oral surgeon… Nothing left for clothes for my wife or myself. Grocery store at least 3 times a week. Gas for 2 cars. Very overwhelming! My wife cleans homes for a job. 3-4 days a week. But.. she has 2 metal rods in her right leg from an accident a few years ago and the cleaning business is very demanding, physically. She says she can’t go on much longer. She brings in approx. $1000 per month. What happens when this goes away? Also, the constant barrage of bill collectors calling from past due medical bills. So again, OVERWHELMED! Looking for answers and/or suggestions, please! Thank you 🙂

    • Travis says:

      Joel, I know exactly how you feel. Not only do you have bills that you need to pay, but you have to provide the basic necessities for your family. On top of that, you want to be able to give your kids the opportunities to have a rich and full childhood, or further their education. I know how overwhelming that can be – I’ve been in those shoes.

      When we first joined our Debt Management Plan, we knew were were going to have to make lifestyle changes since we would no longer have lines of credit available to utilize (thank goodness!). But it took over a year to really understand how deep those changes would have to be. We weren’t honest with ourselves with respect to what we could and could not afford. I don’t profess to be perfect. I don’t claim to have all the answers. I can certainly do better myself. I’m going to make some suggestions that you may not like – they may not be suggestions you need to do ultimately, but I think they are questions you have to ask yourself. They may be hard, but they may be necessary.

      Does your child in college have a job? Can he/she earn more to help push themselves through college? If you do not have enough money for your daily life, do you really have the money to be giving to your adult child in college? As a parent, I understand the want to help them out as much as possible, but you have to be able to do so realistically.

      Do you really have the money to allow your younger daughter to be in dance? I know how much it would suck to have to tell her you can’t afford it….I had to do the same to my kids and their extracurricular activities. It sucked, but it was necessary. Or….maybe there are “scholarships” available to help with the cost? I know our local community ed based sports programs have scholarships that can be applied for to help those who need financial assistance.

      For grocery shopping, I can identify with the multiple trips to the store per week….they’re budget killers! Let me suggest to you a recent post of mine on a different website that addresses this topic:

      http://community.careonecredit.com/b/straight_talk_on_debt/archive/2013/03/06/the-risks-of-secondary-grocery-shopping-trips.aspx

      For help with your medical bills, let me point you at a post that a good friend of mine wrote on that subject…maybe it will help – in many cases you can negotiate your medical bills down, or receive assistance….and all you have to do is ask!

      http://community.careonecredit.com/b/life_challenges/archive/2011/07/13/7-things-to-know-about-paying-off-medical-debt.aspx

      You have to be honest with yourself as to what you can and cannot afford. Do not be afraid to ask for help in the form of assistance, or negotiating your debt to a smaller amount. Debt is a temporary situation that you can and WILL get through!

      Keep your head up and keep on pushing, Joel – and please come back and tell us how you are doing!

      • Joel says:

        Thank you so much for your reply. I am just now listening to disk 1, “Super Saving”. It is preached save, save, save!! So now my question is HOW do you save? For the “emergency fund”, for the “savings”, what is considered an “emergency”? Things that you don’t expect to happen? LOL… That happens every darn day! Is there a guideline of how much to put away out of each paycheck? My friend that I got these discs from says that Dave talks about these questions, and that I haven’t listened far enough. Are there answers to these questions? I NEED to know.

        Thank you,

        ~Joel

        • Travis says:

          I’m familiar with the concept of Dave’s programs, but not enough to be able to answer the “How Much” question…..although my answer would be along the lines of “As much as you can!” LOL. If the answers to pop up, please comment and let us know!

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