It’s payday so I thought I’d talk a little bit about my finances. Money has been the one area in my life I have always struggled with. Luckily my girlfriend and I have learned from each other and team to do the things we needed to do.
Growing up I didn’t have many good role models for how to manage money. My mother was a struggling single mother so all of the money she made was either for bills or for food. There wasn’t enough left over to manage. There was no talk of savings or retirement. We were just trying to survive. My father spent all of his money on himself. He had more pairs of shoes than any woman I know and he always wore the nicest clothes. He was in the military so outside of that they took care of a lot of his finances. He didn’t help my mother out much so she sued him for child support. She got it but it still wasn’t much.
When I was in the fifth grade we did a school project where we all had to go home and make a product to sell and then they took us to a mall where we each got a store and some fake money. We learned what profits were and how to set up bank accounts and write checks. That was probably the single most educating and positive expierience had had as a child around money.
I moved out of my mother’s house just after I had turned 17 and I got a job working at Target as soon as I could. I set up a cell phone account and a bank account and then proceeded to make a lot of financial mistakes. I turned into my father right away. Immediatly after work on payday, every payday, I went shopping. I bought stupid things that made me feel better and I saved nothing.
A couple of years later, when me and my girlfriend moved in together, we realized that eventhough I wasn’t good at budgetting, I knew a lot about how to set up bank accounts, write checks, set up direct deposit, ect. She on the other hand was very, very good at budgeting. So we became a team and helped each other manage money better. We make choices together and and we consult each other before buying things and before and after the bills are paid.
A lot of couples we know, even married ones, keep their money and their day to day financial decisions seperated from each other. Me and Chardonnay never saw the point in that. We think every financial decision should be made together and we also believe that the money each of us makes belongs to both of us. Our friends and family believe we each have given up our freedom and privacy. I think that the way we do things gives both of access to more money and a greater sense of where we stand.
We had to have some ground rules though. We had to have the same goals in mind and we needed to have a good dose of mutual respect. These are not things we sat down and came up with but rather just the way we did things naturally. We thought all couples did things this way and were a bit shocked to find out we were different from our friends. We do tell each other everything we are doing, down to a $0.99 Arizona tea I bought from 7/11. People see this as asking permission from the other person but it’s nothing like that. Chardonnay would never say no to a $0.99 Arizona tea, but I respect that the money I am spending belongs to both of us and so I tell her what is going on.
Doing things this way I feel like a lot of the fights other couples have surrounding money are not fights me and Chardonnay will have to deal with. I never have to worry about her spending money I don’t know about or adding debt I haven’t agreed to. She never have to worry that in the event of a break up she might not get what is fairly hers. All of our accounts, minus our seperate Roths which niether of us spends out of anyway, belong to both of us and if we break up everything is half and half. If something happens to one of us the other owns everything. I still can buy things I want and so can she, but we sit down and talk about what what is a priority and when is a good time to make certain purchases. We pay all of our bills and think about big things we want to do first. When we are spending larger amounts of money we weigh the importance of the purchase against shopping for small things we may regret later in the month.
Our biggest obstacle this month is the fact that because of Chardonnay’s promotion we no longer get paid on the same day. For the past 8 years or more we have been and our bills are all set up to be due right after. Now Chardonnay gets paid 10 days later, after some of those bills are due. So now I pay for some bills out of my check and she pays for the bigger stuff, including the mortgage, out of hers. It’s going to be an adjustment for both of us but hopefully after a few months we can start working on paying off our debt, which isn’t a whole lot really, and start working on an emergency savings, which we don’t have at all. We also have plans to finish up our chest tattoos. Gotta have some fun too, right? :)