Pondering Pennies Past & Present

CB025594A 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.

retrogroceryNow 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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