Pondering Pennies Past & Present
A friend’s blog post from this week inspired me to write this today. She blogged about taking over their family’s finances and looking forward to the coming year and seeing what she can do about emergency funds and vacation funds and such.
I just want to say that just reading that made my neck muscles start to tighten in stress. I’m afraid that just does NOT appeal to me at all. In my previous life, my (ex)husband…well, let’s just say that addictions don’t equal financial success or even the possibility of financial stability. By default, I was in charge of all of our finances, but only after the money went to things other than bills or living. While we always had utilities and a roof over our heads due to some serious juggling and robbing of Peter and Paul, cut-off notices and rodent infested dwellings weren’t strangers to my life. I spent way too many Saturday afternoons, after working 40-50 hours that week at a great job with decent pay, with $30 or less for the week to spend on groceries for our family of 3. I was the master at determining the grocery bill to the penny, tax and fruit-weight included.
When I married Gregg, I didn’t have any comprehension of having enough money to pay all of the bills at one time, much less having money left over after doing that. We’re by no means wealthy, but I could not begin to explain what the difference is in having a husband who is responsible with money and one who is not. Gregg tithes faithfully, pays bills on time, and puts household expenses above personal wants.
Right after we were married, he deployed to Afghanistan, so I became responsible for his bills as well as my own (we didn’t live together until our first anniversary.) I remember one day not long after he was back, the electric company put the electric cutoff notice on the door. Gregg couldn’t understand why, because we had quite a bit of money in the bank. I was just so conditioned to only paying exactly what I had to pay only when I had to pay it, and hoarding money until then, that I didn’t realize that I’d carried it over into my new life.
From that point forward, Gregg took charge of our finances. I was so happy to hand them over. I’ve slowly learned over the last 7 1/2 years not to burst out into tears at the mere thought of a conversation about money, but that took a whole lot of work on my part and a whole lot of patience on Gregg’s part.
Now we bank with an online bank. We can create accounts off of our main account with a few clicks of the keyboard. Gregg has set each child up a savings account, then created a household account. I have a tight budget and a household “allowance” and that is all that I have to worry about. If there’s ever any money left over in the account at the end of the pay period, the excess gets transferred to our savings account and I get a brand new fresh deposit.
I am only responsible for groceries and clothing and such for the kids — and I’m completely comfortable with that range. I leave all of the bill paying, juggling, budgeting, tithing, and all of the other things that I have absolutely no desire to be part of, talk about, or be in charge of at all to Gregg.
And I just want to add that I appreciate the fact that my husband is willing to do all of that, even when he’s 8,000 miles away with a yucky at best internet connection. Paying bills can be problematic for him, but he still does it willingly and graciously, because not doing it would probably double my stress factor.
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I am SO the opposite! I LOVE making budgets, having charts, figuring out where and how money is going. (STICKING to my budget is an entirely different issue :) )
I DO have to say that when money gets tight, it DOES make the job a bit less enjoyable.
Just inputting the receipts into my household account stresses me out, Steph. I admire the fact that you enjoy it!
Oh, Hallee~ How alike we are in this capacity!;the whole story, in fact, as you well know. I’ve lived poorer beyond poor as a single mother to a baby/toddler before my husband came along. This story brought back a lot of memories, and while they are painful, I enjoy relishing in where we are now and I enjoy relishing in the heartache of that time. I know that sounds strange, however, it taught me lessons that are so important and I never want to forget that experience. That journey aids in the compassion, understanding, and “heart” I feel and I don’t think I would otherwise have if it weren’t for the true *empathy* I am able to give others. It’s a lovely gesture to be sympathetic to people, however, to genuinely have walked in those same pair of shoes is something else all together. I distinctly remember having one box of Cheez-its to last a whole week for breakfast, lunch, and supper because I had to buy Riley formula. That was the lowest financial point of my life and I felt guilty for having a toddler who had to reap the repercussions of that terrible time. Alas, came a wonderful person, man, and father not only for Riley, but for the two subsequent angels we’ve been blessed with. Thanks so much for sharing this story! Love you, M.
Meg, I had no idea that you had been a single mom at one point! Your husband and your beautiful kids make such a picture perfect family :)
Both your stories touch me because they are similar to mine. Don’t we love these wonderful men who step in to be a father? Not only to a toddler, but also to the new children we have shared together.
Our men rock. ♥
I wish we all lived next door to each other. :(
I’m glad I could inspire a post of yours…though I’m sorry it made you cringe to read mine. He he. I felt like you do for a long time, so I completely understand your thoughts. And I think that someday when we’re rich and famous (ha), I will probably still hoard out of habit too. It’s awesome that Gregg takes care of all of that for you. I do wish my guy was a little bit more responsible with money (and by that I mean him keeping me in line too), but I’m sure that will come with time. We’re learning, slowly but surely.
Having it all on paper is an amazing learning tool. Just tracking my household expenses to the penny (like, breaking down every receipt into categories and inputting that expenditure for that category into the computer) has taught me areas that I overspend and places were I could so easily cut out. Now I think twice before spending, just so that I don’t needlessly spend.
God knows us so well, including our individual strengths and weaknesses. It sounds like He did a great job pairing the two of you together!
He did, absolutely. ♥ Thank you.
What a blessing to have a husband who is so responsible! We use online banking as well, and have several “accounts” (like an envelope system) for the various categories we need money for. It makes things such a breeze! My husband took over paying the bills a few years ago, and I agree with you – it took such stress off my shoulders! It is nice only having to worry about the grocery and clothing budget :-)