How no turned into yes in three days

Today’s Wednesday guest post is written by Liz Neunsinger. Liz and I share a passion for education and getting our financial houses in order. I’m so happy that Liz is sharing her story about how she and her husband both got on the same page when it came to their finances, even if it took him a bit longer to jump on the bandwagon. Her story shows that we can all change our ways. We just need a place to start.

tugging at money

The most important thing I learned about my marriage came when we decided to get out of debt.

My husband and I married in 2010. At first, we didn’t combine our finances. Neither of us had a clue about how much debt the other brought to the marriage or how much the other made. We paid bills willy-nilly and were getting by. Savings or investments? Forget it! We were all over the place with no path and no goals.

About 8 months after the wedding, I had the opportunity to attend Financial Peace University (FPU) through my work. This was the 13 week FPU course offered in 2 days of intense study. My husband couldn’t attend with me. The first day I listened hard. Wide eyes and dreams floating in my head, this was what we were going to do!

I went home that night and spoke at 100 miles a minute for 3 hours about how great this course was and how it was going to change our lives! We needed to combine our debt, combine our finances, and get on a plan. Finally, when I took a breath, I asked what he thought. “No.” he said so matter-of-factly. My heart sank. We were not on the same page. He didn’t want to combine finances because he didn’t want me to pay for his debt. He didn’t like the budget restricting his purchase power. Bottom line, without his willingness, this plan was going to fail.

I went to the next day of FPU with a sad heart. I listened and dreamed, but it wasn’t the same as day 1. The next day went by. On the 3rd day after we talked about a budget, my husband said, “OK, let’s do it.” Immediately, I realized what happened. He needed a few days to think about and research this new plan. He needed time to ponder. I, on the other hand, was impulsive and excitable. I was ready with little thought. This nugget of information has been the pinnacle of communication in our marriage ever since on EVERYTHING! When I want something, I tell him what I want and he researches it for days. When he wants something, by the time he tells me about it he has already researched it and chosen what he wants. I’m very amenable to his request because I know it’s calculated. Then we budget for it and purchase it.

The best thing that could have happened to us is to decide to get out of debt. Not only has the budget been a monthly map to staying debt free, but the lesson I learned about how to communicate with my husband has kept us strong for 4 years. By the time we talk in depth, we’re both in a mindset to have the discussion, which leads to the best outcome.

When you talk to your spouse, how can you use your personality styles to get you both on the same page? How can you help your partner understand your side before passing judgment? What can you share with your spouse about your communication tendencies that will help them talk with you?

To follow Liz and her adventures in education and finances, check out her blog Study Paycheck.

Making your wife happy without breaking the bank

This week’s Wednesday guest post is by none other than my husband, Jeffery W. Ingram. Yes, this is how he refers to himself. Even when he signs a birthday card, he signs “Jeffery W. Ingram.” It’s just one of the many things I love about him. When he approached me a few weeks ago about writing a guest post, I was a little afraid at first. Previous guest posts have been creative takes on shopping with coupons and recipes for guys. This post is a bit more serious (just a bit). I’ve written a few pieces on communication over the years but this is the first time I’ve gotten his perspective. It was very interesting when I read his perspective and led to a good discussion. It helped to open my eyes and made me thing about how I communicate with him. I hope it helps you as well.

I have a great marriage.  My wife is my lover, my think-tank partner, my muse, and my best friend. However, after reading Nick’s article here and his article at the Good Men Project, it got me thinking (a dangerous past time its true).  I was forced to start asking myself some important questions.

Do I really listen?

By listen I mean hear the words and understand what she mean by them.  I know I think I do or else I would ask questions and try to fix her problems.  I love fixing her problems.

I know I am not alone when I say that I might hear my wife.  However, I do not always listen.

Here is recent example of what I heard.

Kristin: “Jeffery so glad you are home.  I know you had a hard long day at work.  While you were doing that, I did the laundry, saved us a billion dollars, cleaned the kitchen, got us some dinner, and saved many children from a burning house.  So I had a hard day as well.”

Jeffery: “Wow, you also did a lot.  We both had a long stressful day darling.  How about we take a break and have some fun, just you and me.  You are the light of my life, you give me hope.”

This would have been the conversion if I listened.

Kristin: “Jeffery, I know you are doing a lot of work.  We both are.  I am sorry to tell you there is a lot of stuff that needs to happen around the house.  I need your help getting it done.”

Jeffery: “I love you. Let me start helping more.”

What my imagination tells me she heard

Kristin: “HELLLLLLLLLLLLLP”

Jeffery: “No”

What I really said, “Wow you did a lot today”

sheHeard

Now, I do try to listen.  However, she is a woman and I am a man.  We are always going to place effort into our communications. However, the main burden is on me.  My instincts lead me through life with a confidence; it helps me make quick and usually good decisions.  However, I need to remember to temper it with reviewing my decisions and seeing how to make better decisions going forward.

I can love my wife without breaking the bank

Since you are on my wife’s blog you know that she is frugal.  Well, I am cheap unless it involves my wife.  I would buy her the Crown Jewels to show her my love. I would take her for dinner and an opera in Rome every night.  It would be easy to spend lots of money on her, unless I listen.  She might be okay with me splurging on her at times.  However, if I go over the top (and I love going over the top), I could go bankrupt pampering her.

Since I started listening to Kristin, I know that my over-the-top pampering would drive her into a stress coma.  I needed a more cost effective way to show my love to her.  My first act was simple. I threw in a load of laundry before I went into work.  It wasn’t much.  However, she told me how happy it made her.

The cost to me was 1 minute in my morning routine; the benefit to her was that the first thing she would not see after waking up was a load of laundry.  If she did, her day would start off thinking about the entire task that needed to happen today and she would have to do it since I was already at work.  It helped free up her mind so she could dream a little more that day, a much better outcome then if I brought her the Crown Jewels. She would have just passed out, losing her mind to the fear of the massive debt I created to buy them.

Let’s add in a little old school

In the past, I wrote numerous love notes to my wife: To K from J, to my angel, or to my perfection were the three models I used.  I had forgotten about them.  I did them when we first met and slowly over the years the frequency declined until I had basically forgotten about it.

I loved doing it.  They were as much for me as they were for her.  I have a hopeless romantic trapped in me.  I still tried to be romantic.  However, my approach changed.  However thanks to a story from my hustle friend, Tricia, I was reminded about the notes.  So, I now randomly place my wife notes in the morning.  Little love notes, to let her know I am thinking about her and to let her know how much she helps me.

So What?

These things might seem little and they are little.  You might be thinking, “Jeepers Jeffery, you spend a freaking two whole minutes a morning starting laundry and write a little note . . . whoopdeefreekingdingdong.”  You would be right; it only takes two whole minutes, maybe three.  However, I feel better and work better.  She feels better and works better and only for the cost of two minutes.  Once it a blue moon you might be able to pull a big wow factor.  Ultimately, the little things are what makes or breaks a marriage.

I hoped you enjoyed.  Want to help me get to three minutes a day being nice to my wife, please comment below and let me know what is the little thing you wish someone would do for you?  And what are the little things you do for your better half.  Heck, if we are lucky I might get up to 5 minutes today.  After you comment, go do a little something for the person you love!

When two become one

I went to a lovely wedding this weekend. During the ceremony, the priest discussed how in marriage two people come together to become one. This is a theme in most, if not all the weddings I have attended, including my own. It’s a beautiful thought really. The bride and groom, living separate lives, now join together and create one new life together.

In my years of counseling, I think a lot of people miss this message when it comes to finances. Most couples with financial problems (which quickly become marital problems) fall into one of two camps. Either they keep their financial lives completely separate or one person becomes the “financial guru” in the relationship. Generally, this person has the entire weight of both financial lives upon their shoulders but both partners still act as though they are living separate financial existences.

The hardest part of counseling people in either of these camps is convincing them that in order to end up at the same place at the end of their financial journey (usually retirement), they need to work together. There is no longer “her money” and “his debt” but “our money” and “our debt”. It’s impossible to have one spouse truly prosper financially when the other has debt of any kind. Whether or not you believe it, your financial lives will be forced to become one at some point. Hopefully that moment comes as prosperity at retirement, rather than bankruptcy later in life.

I’m a big believer in setting down goals. What kind of retirement do we want to have? How are we going to get there. When having children, will one of us stay home? Public school or private school? Do we see ourselves living here forever? Do either of us need more education to achieve our goals?

Jeff and I have these kinds of conversations all the time. It’s actually fun to sit down and ponder the future and try to figure out how we will get there together. We do our monthly budget together. We celebrate our financial successes together. We work out the setbacks together. We didn’t always do this. A few years ago, we were one of those couples where one person handled the finances. It was stressful. It caused disagreements. It caused strain between us. Once we got on the same plan and started working together, everything changed. The money stress is virtually gone. When there is money stress, we handle it together.

I’m not saying things are going to change overnight, but when you start to see your finances as one unit that you both must carry together, it will start to get better. Your marriage will become stronger and the stresses that come with money will be less.

For more information on this, I highly recommend The Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace Revisited. Both books cover how to talk to your spouse, how to have those budget meetings and how to put together a plan for the rest of your financial life.