When you just don’t want to make dinner

To say that last week was a difficult week would be an understatement. We ended up eating out a few times and spending all of our entertainment budget for the month (and we still have a little over two weeks to go). Saturday night, we really wanted to order pizza. We were so tired and neither of us wanted to make dinner. Jeff even offered to use his blow money to order pizza. It was tempting. Really tempting but we didn’t do it.

We both knew the entertainment budget was gone. We did have blow money but I didn’t want to spend it. We had bought a bunch of groceries in the past few days so we had food.

We just didn’t want to make anything. The thought of standing in front of the stove was not at all appealing. I know you’ve had those days. The days when you aren’t sure if your legs would support you to stand in front of the stove to make grilled cheese.

I started to think of all the food I had bought that week. I made a Costco run on Friday night. I had stocked up on a lot of things. I could make hamburgers or hot dogs. My knees ached at the thought. Too tired for hamburgers or hot dogs.

It was getting late and we needed to eat something. We had no cereal in the house, no lunch meat either. I was starting to cave and was about to tell Jeff to order pizza when a light went off in my head.

2014-09-14 17.05.51Frozen meatballs.

I had a  huge bag of frozen meatballs from Costco. I put some in a bowl and thew them in the microwave for a few minutes to defrost them. While they were in the microwave, I poured a jar of sauce in a pan. I sat down as the meatballs mingled with the sauce. Twenty minutes later, we had hot meatballs and sauce, hot dog buns and mozzarella cheese.

Three minutes of effort and we had meatball sandwiches for dinner. They might have been the best meatball sandwiches I’ve ever had. Well, they were the best three minute effort meatball sandwiches I’ve ever had. They were really good, really quick and a hell of a lot less expensive than ordering pizza.

Since we did not order pizza, I made some pizza dough on Sunday. We will have pizza this week.

What do you make when you just don’t want to cook? How do you keep yourself from ordering take-out?

You can make amazing pasta at home

Have you always wanted to make homemade pasta but felt overwhelmed by the process? It is actually a lot easier that you think. I have been making homemade pasta for years, so when Mary Nolte asked to write a guest post about the process, I knew you would all love it. For me, there is nothing better in the world than a bowl of homemade pasta.


pasta 6

Want to feel like a gourmet chef? It’s not that “store-bought” pasta is incredibly expensive, but this recipe will help you save a few pennies with the added bonus of making you feel like a gourmet chef. Your friends and family are sure to applaud your efforts when you serve up this pasta in any of its versatile varieties.

Basic recipe:

Begin with about 3/4 Cup of all-purpose flour. Make a well in the center. Crack an egg into a clear juice glass or a small jar. Check it for any small pieces of shell. It’s easier to remove it from a small clear glass than after it’s already in the recipe. Pour the egg into the well of the flour.

If you have a KitchenAid mixer, use the dough hook and mix on slow. If you do not have a fancy appliance, fear not! My grandmother mixed pasta by hand and it tasted all the more delicious. Actually, use a standard table knife to mix the dough. It will be easier to clean than a fork and will be just as effective.

To the flour and egg, I use up to a teaspoon of salt. Salt quantity is to taste, but I recommend that you use at least 1/2 teaspoon.  I use Himalayan pink salt, but standard table salt or sea salt is perfectly acceptable.

Mix these three ingredients until a stiff dough is formed. Remove the dough and seal it in a baggie until you are ready to form the pasta. If I intend to make several batches, this is a good breaking point. Simply keep placing the dough balls into baggies and into the refrigerator until you’re ready for the next stage.

Variations:

There are many delicious variations of Home Crafted Pasta. Simply add the additional ingredients while stirring in the egg. Here are a few ideas:

Garlic: Add minced garlic (fresh or from a jar is fine).

Herb: Use your imagination! I use oregano and thyme.

Spinach: This is slightly more involved. I process a few hands full of spinach in a blender with a few tablespoons of water along with the egg. More flour may be required to accommodate the additional liquid, but the pasta is so delicious that you won’t mind having a little extra.

Any of the above in various combinations!

At our local farmer’s market, there is a vendor who sells many other variations, including beet, mushroom, lime and cilantro, garlic and chive, lemon and pepper; and black pepper and basil. I suggest that you use your imagination and search online for other ideas and variations.Pasta 2

To craft the pasta, remove the dough from the baggies and either roll it out old-fashioned style onto a floured table top or use a Pasta Maker. I only got my pasta machine very recently. Until I got it, I modeled my Grandma Emmie’s method by using a rolling pin. I LOVE the machine. It runs about $25. I lucked out and got mine when it was on sale for $20.

Once the pasta is rolled to about 1/8 of an inch thick, you can leave it to dry for a while, or you can cut the pasta and then let it dry. Again, you can cut it the old-fashioned way by using a knife or even a pizza wheel. Perfectly symmetrical and evenly cut pasta is not necessary. That’s the beauty of it all! Cut the pasta narrow or wide, anywhere from 1/8 of an inch up to approximately 1/2 inch wide.pasta 4

Once the pasta is cut and slightly dried, “fluff” it into some flour to keep it from sticking together. Gently roll it into “nests” and protect it well in baggies and containers until you’re ready to use it. If you’re going to use it within a day or two, it can be refrigerated. If you are stocking up, it can be frozen and will keep nicely in the freezer for 4-6 weeks.

A key point for when boiling home crafted pasta is that it doesn’t need to be boiled as long as store-bought pasta. For example, spaghetti sized home crafted pasta really only needs to boil for about four minutes. Since this seems to be a matter of personal taste, I recommend that you set a timer and check the pasta at each one minute interval beginning at four minutes. Some people like their pasta more al dente than other people, right?

Home Crafted Pasta has double potential because not only do you get to be creative with the actual pasta; you also get to be creative with the sauces and embellishments. Here are a few ideas:

Your favorite go-to sauce: I use a very inexpensive store-bought sauce and to each jar I add one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of minced garlic. The sugar causes this sauce to darken slightly as it heats through. You can make this more hearty by combining it with ground meat as per your tried and true method.

Olive oil and garlic: Heat a desired amount of olive oil in a sauce pan. Do not overheat. Add minced garlic, to taste. Drizzle over the pasta.

Alfredo: Because I would be as big as a house if I ate Alfredo sauce on a regular basis, I try to avoid this one. Recipes are easy to find and I have made it a time or two, and it is delicious.

Herbs, pesto: I absolutely love basil! I recently learned that the word pesto is a variation of the word pestle and doesn’t necessarily mean just basil. You can pestle anything with a little olive oil and sea salt, including:

Spinach: Process some spinach and sea salt with olive oil and use as a pesto. Delicious!

Veggies: Roast or lightly sauté fresh vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc. Toss with your home crafted pasta for a delicious vegetarian dinner.

Meats: Try broiling chicken or salmon with any of the combinations described and top your pasta with all of the deliciousness that you can imagine.Pasta 1

To any of these, you can add favorites like black olives, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, capers…the possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

Have you ever made homemade pasta? 

Mary Nolte is the author of The Ice Cream Truck, a collection of food related short stories. She is currently working on two new books. For more information on Mary, you can check out her website.

What if you didn’t have a mortgage or rent payment this month?

My husband and I have been using the 28 day budget since November of last year. It has made cash flow planning so much easier since we get paid every two weeks. No worrying about what to do when we get three paychecks in a month. No more worrying about how to budget for groceries if there is an extra few days in the month. I really like the plan, but I love it now.

Our September budget runs from September 3 to September 30. Our mortgage is due on the 1st of the month. That means that in the September budget, there is no mortgage payment due. Over the past ten months, we’ve seen other expenses fall out of the budget range. It was nice the month that our utilities dropped off the budget since those are a fairly large expense.

shareasimage (20)

Making a budget without a mortgage payment did two things for us.

First, that gave us a LOT of extra money to throw at the debt snowball. That $1,900 is going to make a huge dent in the HELOC we are currently paying off. POW!

More importantly, it made me see what our budget could look like when we are finally 100% debt free, when we no longer have a mortgage payment. Seeing that budget gave me renewed drive to keep pressing on and get our debt paid off.

If I wasn’t sure about the 28 day budget before, I am now a true believer.

What would you do if you didn’t have a mortgage or rent payment one month each year? 

Saying goodbye and the importance of the baby emergency fund

It’s taken me almost two weeks to build up the courage to write this post. On August 25, we said goodbye to one of our cats. Thor was just six years old when we made the decision to put him down. To say we were devastated would be an understatement. He was a bright light in our lives and the energy in our home.

2013-01-03 14.53.07

 

This picture is pure Thor. He was curious and loved to play. He made an appearance on the blog a number of times because he got into the pictures I was taking. He loved having his picture taken. He was also loving toward us and everyone who came into the house. He loved to sleep on my hip every night. He was the best friend we could have asked for. Even though he was a good sized cat, he loved standing on my husband’s shoulder.

thorNew

Saying goodbye to him was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. We had a very difficult week emotionally after he passed. We are so thankful that we did not have to worry about things financially. We had a number of medical bills that we were able to pay because we had our $1,000 emergency fund. We were able to mourn the loss without the financial burden.

It has been a very difficult two weeks but there is a bright spot. While we can never replace Thor and the amazing friend that he has been to us for the past six years, we decided to get another kitten. We adopted him from a shelter, as we did with our other cats. This is Boriek. I call him Bo.

2014-09-04 13.40.35

We named him Boriek because that is the name of the god of chaos in my husband’s fantasy world. He has lived up to the name extremely well. He is a bit shy but really playful. He gets along with the other cats and they seem to like him even if he is a bit crazy. Watching him play reminds me of Thor as a kitten. Rather than thinking about Thor’s death, I am constantly reminded of his life and how wonderful it was.

There are still times I cry because I miss my friend, as I am while writing this post. Now, the tears end with a smile and a pleasant memory of Thor. As I write this, I think of all the times that he jumped on my desk while I was writing to get a bit of love. He loved to bother me when I was trying to get things done but those moments made me take a break out of my hectic day and relax. He always knew when I needed to take a break.

I miss you Thor, but I will always remember how you changed our lives. I promise to take a break when I need to and remember that life is a gift. Goodbye, my friend.

What Is Killing Your Ability to Dream?

What is killing your ability to dream?

This morning, my husband and I were running errands and chatting about our hustles. Jeff is working on a podcast, new website and finishing up his first book. I am working on this site and my new site, Accounting In Focus. All this is in addition to our day jobs and side businesses. We were sharing ideas and updates when something struck me.

I don’t think we could have done this five years ago.

Five years ago, we were drowning in debt. We could barely breathe, let alone dream. We were at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Abraham Maslow studied individual’s needs. His research is the basis for the Hierarchy of Needs. In short, Maslow’s research stated an individual’s needs must be met in a certain order before moving to the next level. A person will strive to meet the level of need and once those are fulfilled, he or she will naturally move to the next level.

First we must fill basic needs: food, shelter, and other basic survival needs. Then we move on to safety needs, like security and stability. I believe debt falls into this second stage because debt typically hurts our security and stability. It causes risk in our lives. While we have debt, it is hard to move on to the higher levels of the Hierarchy.

Esteem needs are those like achievement, mastery and self-respect. This is typically where we start to dream. Self-actualization is the point at which we start to realize our full potential and seek to grow. If dreaming and realizing those dreams is in the top two tiers of the pyramid, could debt be crushing those dreams?

In our case, I believe it’s true. As we have paid off our debt and have more security in our lives, we have less stress. Stress is tiring and sucks up a lot of our mental capacity. I remember how tiring the stress was. I remember the all consuming nature of it. It zapped my energy.

While we have not paid off all of our debt, the fact that we can now live on just one income has really helped us feel more stable and secure. It has helped us open our minds to creative projects and personal growth. My husband is writing again. We are both creating again. We are taking in knowledge and improving ourselves. Even though the days are generally long, we are both excited about our projects rather than exhausted from the stress of debt.

Is stress overwhelming you? What is stopping you from dreaming? Have you begun to dream again? What got you dreaming again?

If it happens three times, it must be true

There are times in my life when it seems as though the world knows just what I need to keep pressing along. It’s been a rough week in my house. I was sick, one of the cats was very sick, and we spent a lot of money at the vet. We have also gotten behind on the renovations we are doing around the house. I became discouraged. My husband and I are both working on so much right now. I was starting to doubt if I could get my new site launched by the time the semester started. I was starting to doubt if I was going in the right direction at all.

It was at that moment that I started to question myself and everything that I was doing, that my friend Kevin at Living Out My Journey wrote a post about discovering his life purpose. In the post, he discusses a conversation he had with Isabel Hundt that really made him change the way he thought about his purpose. I know Isabel as well and she is an amazing coach who really helps you see your journey in a new and exciting light. She has a gift for helping people reframe their mindset.

When asked about their purpose in life, most people including me, would have given an answer involving other people. Helping others. Caring for others. Teaching others. As I started reading the post, my mind instantly went to my own purpose: teaching others and showing them they can succeed and grow. Kevin’s purpose was also about helping others to achieve their dreams and encouraging others to make the most of their lives (it’s one of the reasons I love Kevin’s blog so much).

My mind was continuing to think about my purpose when I hit a wall. Kevin then wrote,

Then she asked the question that stopped me in my tracks.

What if no one needed you anymore?

(Insert record scratch here!)  I think I was silent for about 30 seconds, which doesn’t happen often.  That had never crossed my mind before.  No one had ever presented that question to me.

I have to say that it stopped me in my tracks as well. My purpose was about teaching others. This just about shattered by already poor mentality. Why was I doing all of this? Luckily, I did not close the browser and walk away. Kevin found his purpose and it helped me think about mine.

I thought about it as I drove to the University for my human resources orientation. As I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that part of the reason I love teaching others is because I love to learn. My job, my business and my websites ensure that I am constantly researching and learning new things. My purpose became clear.

Continuous learning.

Always striving to learn new things is what keeps me going. It can be anything really. Learning home improvement techniques, ways to manage money more efficiently, or ways to become a better teacher/blogger/wife. Feeding my brain new information keeps me going.

As I walked to my meeting with HR yesterday, I saw this.

2014-08-20 09.51.59

I walked into my meeting with a renewed sense of purpose. Life had smacked me twice and it was only 10:00 am.

The third smack came this morning. I was already thinking of this post when I opened my email this morning. The first email I saw was from Sal Khan of Khan Academy, which is a free online tutoring site which I used when I was talking calculus classes last summer. The website has a new tagline, “You Can Learn Anything.” In the email was this video:

If that didn’t just reinforce my purpose, I’m not sure what would have. I’ve decided to show the video to my students on the first day of classes.

Sometimes the world knows when you need a bit of encouragement. I got a lot of it over the past 24 hours.

I also wanted to mention that you can get Isabel’s new e-book, Identity Crisis in the World of Entrepreneurs, free on her website. It is a wonderful book for anyone who has a business or wants to start one.

Have you defined your purpose? Has life smacked you recently to push you in a certain direction? 

 

Saving money on textbooks

You’ve paid tuition, fees, room and board plus purchased all the stuff you need for the dorm room. You arrive on campus to move yourself or your child into their room, head to the bookstore and WHAM! Another $800 – $1,000 for books. Textbooks are insanely expensive but there are ways to cut your costs. You need to do your homework and possibly send a few emails to professors, but you could potentially save 70 – 90% on your textbooks with these tips.

There are so many options for your textbook purchases: in-store, online, new, used, buy, rent. Which are the best options? Let’s discuss.

Saving money on college textbooks

Original photo by John Lui, copyright 2011.

Start early

If you know the class schedule, you can start looking at books immediately. Instructors are required to put in their book orders in the spring for fall courses and the fall for spring courses. Generally, I am required to have my textbook orders in shortly after students have started registration. This allows students to possibly purchase the books from other students at the end of the semester. Also, used textbook prices tend to rise as the demand for the book increases. There is less demand for books at the end of the semester when students are selling books rather than buying them.

Contact the instructor

There are a number of reasons why you should do this. First, most instructors will give you the name of the book, the authors, publisher and ISBN to insure you are purchasing the correct book. I can’t tell you how many times a student has purchased the wrong book online because he/she found the title of the book and through the correct book was being purchased.

When making your inquiry, ask how much the book will be used in class. Will it be needed for homework assignments or just for reading? Will all the books listed in the syllabus actually be used. I have experienced instructors who inherit a course and syllabus from another instructor and then later decide not to use all the materials listed in the syllabus. By asking the particulars, you can save yourself from purchasing books you will not need. If the book is just used for reading assignments, you can save a lot of money by purchasing a previous edition of the textbook. This managerial accounting book is $230 new and $42 used, but a quick search shows that the previous edition
can be purchased for $7. Most textbooks do not change a tremendous amount from edition to edition.

This is also a good time to ask if there is an online component required for the course. Many courses now require online homework managers. These products are usually an additional cost but sometimes the online component includes an e-book, which could save you money since you would not need to purchase a printed copy of the book.

Custom Editions

Sometimes, students feel like they must purchase the book from the bookstore because it is a “custom edition”. While some custom editions are a compilation of sources, most are just one textbook with some of the chapters removed, bound in soft cover to lower the price. Many times, you can purchase a used hardcover copy for less money. Check with the professor if you can’t find the ISBN online. You might be dealing with a custom edition.

Rent vs. Buy

Many colleges and online sites allow you to rent textbooks. This can be a great option to save a ton of money. You can rent the same managerial accounting book with the online component (which is $60 if you purchase it separately) for $42. This is actually less expensive than just the online component.

Make sure that when you rent textbooks, you understand the terms and conditions. Can you write or highlight in the book? When must it be returned? Who pays for the return?

Also make sure that you are getting all of the components you need for the course, like the online homework manager. I have had students end up paying more than the bookstore price because when you add the rental fee plus the online component, the cost is higher.

Don’t wait until the last minute

There is nothing worse than waiting until after classes start to begin researching textbooks. I have had a number of students fail my first exam because they took too long to purchase their textbooks. Most of my courses have a homework manager with a 2 week free trial and I still have students that do not get their books within that time frame. Typically, if you contact the instructor, you can make arrangements to get your books before classes start. You don’t need to wait until the first class meeting to determine if the books are needed because you have already made the inquiry.

The most important thing I’ve learned about life is that you must be proactive. Don’t wait for things to happen to you. Go make things happen.

What tips do you have for saving on textbooks? What is the most you’ve ever spend on textbooks for one semester?

When emergencies happen (because we all know they will!)

Today’s post is a guest post by Janeen Kilgore. She’s had a number of emergencies pop up recently, but she was able to deal with it without accumulating debt. I love her take on this and I hope you will too.

We aren’t completely payment free, but we sure are slowly working our way there, because we have a plan and work our plan.  We still have a house payment and one car payment which is small, and we should have knocked out by fall.  We also have a life, go out to eat, to the movies, go on vacation and paid for my Master’s degree in cash as I went.

We have household emergencies like everyone else.  The biggest difference for us is the plan.  Nearly a year ago, my husband’s job went away unexpectedly, but we had a plan.  We came out of that better than we ever thought we would, especially our relationship.  He was out of work the same months I was off for summer break, as a teacher, so we spent the mornings doing resumes and web searches and the afternoons we spent cuddled up talking about where to go next, unlike any other time in our marriage.  One of his friends was able to point him to the job he’s in now, which he enjoys more than ever before.

So before you think we make big money, I teach, and he’s a mid-level technical specialist.  Not only that but I I don’t even make the “big teacher bucks” of public school teachers, I teach in a small private school, which pays 80% of the going rate at the small local public school.

Our plan – we just tell our money where to go, putting back just a little bit every month for emergencies, because emergencies aren’t the end of the world if you have a plan.  Several years ago we decided that any tax refund we received we would put a sizeable portion back to an emergency fund, and then add to it every month.  So we started by putting $200 back and then an extra $20 a month.

Emergencies happen – In early June, I noticed our home being warm and I thought I heard the air conditioner running all the time.  Yes, we had issues.  We were quoted $150 or so to fix it – not the end of the world, but not the best way to start the summer either.    Here’s what it actually ended up being:

Janeen1

Then just a week later, I was doing laundry and the washing machine made bad sounds, smelling like burning rubber and stopped.  So we had a few unhappy words, spent a few hours looking on Craig’s list and the newspaper ads for another new-to-us, but used washing machine, to replace the new-to-us used washing machine which had lasted 4 years.  The one we had before quit 5 years after we bought it.  We had no luck with used, so we found one on sale at a local big box store.  Is it a perfect match to my still working dryer?  NO!  Is it where anyone but me can see that it’s not a perfect match?  No!

When our friends come to visit, they don’t come and check to see if we have a matching washer and dryer.  They just want to be welcomed.    

Janeen2

Having a plan when bad household things happen because they do happen takes the sting out of them.  So while working toward living payment free, plan for the unexpected, so you don’t have an unexpected long term payment.

 

Janeen3Janeen is a 5th grade teacher, who loves to bike ride in Missouri.  She and her husband grew up with different money situations in their families, which caused relationship issues.  They saw the mistakes of their friends and family and wanted to live differently.   They are working toward being completely debt free as soon as possible, because they want to enjoy our life, without any payments. You can find out more about Janeen on her blog, Mrs. Kilgore’s Classes.

Frugal Frustrations: Shrinking Products

First it was coffee. We started to notice cans of coffee no longer contained a pound of coffee. This was not really noticeable for us because we buy our coffee in bulk at the warehouse club. Then it was ice cream. No longer were containers half gallon, but 1.75 quarts. We lost 12.5% of the product overnight. It was a pretty bold move cutting the size of the product so much.

Now, another shrinking product, this time a 20% cut in the size of the product. 20%?!?!?! shrinking products

I had heard a lot about this one but this week was the first time it hit my grocery purchases. We don’t use much sugar in our house. I had been buying it at the warehouse club but with the small amount of sugar we use, I decided to pick it up at Wal-Mart instead. Our previous 5 pound bags of sugar, have been reduced to 4 pounds.

For as long as I can remember, this staple in the kitchen has been 5 pounds. You would buy 5 pounds of flour and 5 pounds of sugar (good God, is flour next?).

I understand that huge increases in cost have motivated this move, but I think it is silly. With other products, people might not so easily notice but losing a pound of sugar in your bag. I would imagine that this is noticeable.

Why can’t food producers just be honest with us? Rather than raising prices, they decrease the size of the product and hope we don’t notice. With the price of everything going up today, most people are frustrated but understand. I would rather pay higher prices and get the same amount of product than come home and realize I’ve been cheated out of 20% of the product!

Have you noticed the shrinking products on the grocery shelves? Which ones have frustrated you the most?

 

2 Money Habits That Hurt My Marriage

Today’s post is written by Nick Pavlidis. Nick was recently featured on The Good Men Project, asking the one question to tell if you’re a terrible husband.

Nick and I are doing a blog swap today. You can find my post at his site, Step Away from the Mall.

shareasimage (18)

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May 2008 my wife and I had a Big Fat Greek Wedding surrounded by 250 of our closest friends and relatives and 4 wedding crashers.

The Sunday thing was my idea to save a few bucks on vendors who would still have Saturday to sell. While I thought that was pretty brilliant at the time, it resulted in several people not making it to our celebration. In hindsight, the wedding was amazing and everyone there had a great time (open bar helped…) but several people had Memorial Day commitments and were missed. (It’s also possible that I’m just unlikable…).

We have made several big and little decisions with money in the years since that day. And since I’m more of the “money guy” in the relationship, I tend to get a little excited about making these decisions. Yet even with a healthy opinion on money and tireless commitment to planning well with money for our future, I still battle two big money habits that have bitten my marriage in the backside more times t
han I’d like to admit.

The bad news is that I allowed these habits to continue. My bum is sore and my marriage has a few scars as well.

But the good news is that overcoming these habits provides incredible opportunities to strengthen our money and marriage over time.

Ok, enough about my tushie. Here are the habits:

1. Not asking for my wife’s opinion

This has come up more than I care to admit. My instinct is to take things off her plate and protect her from some of the stress that’s inherent in making tough money decisions.

That leads me to make decisions without consulting her.

And not only does that make her feel undervalued or unloved, I have no doubt that most of our money mistakes have come from solo decisions.

Her input is fresh and from the perspective of someone who isn’t as much of a “numbers person” as me.

And most of the time that reveals the real-world consequences that some of my “ideas” would have.

Undesired and unintended consequences. Yes, if we put 25% of our take home pay into retirement, another 10% into a college fund for our son, and another 10% into a college fund for our daughter we will be all set in 20 years!

But we will also be pretty skinny because it would not leave much for “food,” after paying our home, car, and other expenses. :)

And while I could probably stand to shed a few lbs these days, agreeing to the intensity level with which we work, spend, save, and give, is powerful for our relationship.

She feels more loved and valued. I have an extra opportunity to connect with her. And we often get better results on a plan we both agree to.

Win, win, win.

2. Not trying on my wife’s shoes

I’ve been known to accidentally wear my wife’s socks to work. That’s what happens when you blindly grab a pair of black socks from the clothes basket in the morning on the way out the door.

But when making money decisions I often make them based upon “my logic,” or I agree, but say something stupid about a potential purchase without first taking her size sevens for a spin around the block.

“$25 for a mani-pedi? Isn’t that just paint on nails? Don’t they sell whole jugs of paint with a free brush at the grocery store for $1? I don’t get it, but I’m not going to stop you.”

It turns out I don’t have to get it. But now I do. Because I asked.

My ignorant assessment of the “value” of a mani-pedi fails to take into account the “me time,” “experience,” and “hand or foot massage” that comes with the mani-pedi.

And those are totally “worth” way more than the $25 Wednesday special mani-pedi hits our wallet.

The heartache these could have saved.

I battle these habits every day. I’m a “doer,” which means I like to get just enough information to make an informed decision and move on.

If it’s the right decision, great. If it’s the wrong decision, I’ll make another one.

But marriage and money are about way more than just the “decision.”

The process counts just as much or even more than the result.

And that’s why in school giving the right answer to a math problem only gets you partial credit.

You only get full credit when you “show your work” and get to the answer the right way.

Just like marriage. Getting to decisions the right way will only enhance your relationship, and results.

What’s one money habit that you struggle with that interfere with you connecting with your spouse? And better yet, what can you do today that helps you connect better with your wife about love and money?

Nick Pavlidis is a husband, father, lawyer, and business and life coach whose upcoming book, Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned from a Lumpy Couch, exposes how he became a terrible husband, discovered that he was a terrible husband, took inventory, and committed to becoming better and better each day. He is a proud marriage “nonexpert” who is working tirelessly to improve his marriage in the open so he can insprire, encourage, and equip others to improve theirs. You can get the latest news and Nick’s real-time updates on becoming a better husband at the Confessions of a Terrible Husband blog.