My First guest post features one of my favorite bloggers and debt free people in the community: Grace, thecfomom. Read her post about dealing with a partner in life that isn’t so much a partner in finances.
Over 10 year ago, my husband Bob and I met when we were pursuing graduate school at the same institution. Looking back, we were both 22 years old and debt free before it became a thing! We began as friends and then started dating six months later. Funny to note that while I was taking student loans and a car note, he remained debt free driving a “Dave car”. He had zero debt and didn’t own a credit card. When he put a ring on it, he paid for that ring straight cash. We combined bank accounts after we got engaged and started planning our wedding. We set a budget and vowed to not to spend a penny over $10K. I graduated, deferred my loans and used my full time income to save for the majority of our wedding. We were on the same page financially and it was great!
Fast forward to the present day, Bob refuses to budget. He spends money on whatever he wants. I stopped trying to hold budget meetings when they all started to feel like a bad reality TV show! (Next up on “How to work towards a divorce”, we have Bob and Grace.) So what happened between our wedding and now? He got a job. After spending a billion years in school, he graduated and started corporate employment. In the beginning, we were DINKs (dual income, no kids) and living large. We bought a brand new SUV and a house (at the peak of the market before the crash) with no money down. We could afford it, so why not. I tried to get him on board with going gazelle intense on the debt we accumulated, but it soon became a serious point of contention in our marriage. I will never forget him telling me, “I didn’t spent all those years in school to be living like a poor person!”
After that, I knew I was on my own. Because of the cross-country move for his job, there were a few months that I was unemployed and we lived off of his salary only. When I started working, I used my salary to quickly pay off $13K worth of student loans. We continue to live off of his salary today and he doesn’t seem to care or notices since he refuses to talk about money. I use my earnings for whatever “crazy” financial goals I have going on. I’ve paid off $113K of debt over 10 years using this method. If he was on board, I could have cut that time in half. But since living off his salary helped me pay off debt, I figured a strong marriage was better than one that fights over money all the time. I keep telling myself that the turtle wins the race. We will be debt free including the mortgage at some point but it will just take it a little longer.
Do I get frustrated? Of course! I still make a budget every month and try to glean from him what he thinks things will cost. We usually discuss what events are coming up for us and the kids. I’ll then take that information and try to adjust the budget accordingly. When he overspends, I work to underspend on groceries, my fun money or eating out. Is it a fair system? Not at all. Often I have to catch myself from thinking “Well, the budget is already blown! I might as well overspend too!” Is this system working? Well, you be the judge. We are debt free except for the mortgage. We recently refinanced our mortgage to a 15 year one. We have 3 month emergency fund as well as he is contributing 10% of his salary to retirement. Sure, we could be great and be on baby step 6 by now. But I’ll take a great marriage that doesn’t fight over finances instead.
*The names may or may not have been changed to protect the guilty.
You can follow Grace on Instagram: @thecfomom