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.