I’m usually all about small joys, but recently we celebrated a big one! Bjorn and I are the proud owners of a brand new Chevy Silverado – it’s everything we want and need in a farm/family vehicle, and it’s the RED pickup truck I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl!! And the best part of all?! We didn’t have to go into debt to do so! We’ve been blessed with opportunities to earn and invest and stay debt-free so that buying a truck wouldn’t put a dent in our savings. We praise God for the ability to do this and for His provision! Now the next step: time to start brainstorming names for this gorgeous thing. 🙂
Instead of just announcing a “we did it” moment, though, I wanted to take the time today to explain more of “how we did it.” We’re passionate about using money wisely in this household – since money is something that God, the ultimate Provider, has entrusted to us. How we humans deal with money determines whether or not we will bring glory to Him in the process.
A little background on money & us, first: Before we got married, Bjorn and I were best friends in college (more of our love story here). Bjorn has had a cool, calm, practical approach to money for as long as I can remember. I, on the other hand, used to be someone who essentially spent what I earned. Sure, I had a savings account and I was not broke, but I was not saving in the true sense of the word. I can vividly remember a conversation on money Bjorn and I had in college; we were on one of our usual lunch dates and were discussing my finances leading up to my month in Cambodia. I was in a bit of denial about how well I was really saving money for Cambodia (hint: I was not doing a good job) and Bjorn, in his ever-reasonable, practical way, nudged me to stare at the facts and admit that something proactive had to be done. It was a very humbling conversation for me, because it took some hard looks at my spending/saving patterns and my bank account to get me to realize I needed to save a lot more smartly. Bjorn, on the other hand, has had a Roth IRA retirement fund that he created when he was a high schooler (no parent involvement with that decision).
Fast-forward to today: perhaps it’s the fact that we live in such a small community and there is no Starbucks to tempt me (haha!), but in our first year of marriage, we have really been able to intentionally and actively save money as a team. So, it’s not just Bjorn saving money while Hannah spends. 😉 We love Dave Ramsey and led a Financial Peace University class last year at a local church. I still look to Bjorn for the final decision in large financial decisions, and he holds the reins in terms of the bigger investments we have going on such as our stocks portfolio.
I know that money (especially for 20-somethings) can be a touchy subject, but I feel that the subject gets more and more frustrating to read/talk about if we don’t look at it head on and move forward in practical ways!
I’ve chatted with Bjorn and narrowed down the most important things we’ve learned and implemented in our finances, so today I’m bringing you Part One of this mini-series on money! I know that these tips won’t be a perfect fit for the lifestyle of everyone who reads this, but I feel that they are valuable points to think about nonetheless. So, that being said, here is Part One of our:
Our 9 Keys to Living Wi$ely
1 // Have a budget and stick to it. This one’s common sense. We love the Goodbudget app – you can fill specific virtual envelopes each month (such as “Bee’s Spending Money” or “Groceries”), and when you enter purchases, the scales will adjust and show you how much money you have left for that category…AND it’ll sync to your spouse’s phone! We love it because it’s easy to use on-the-go and absolutely free.
2 // Chat about purchases above a specific decided-upon amount. Decide with your spouse what this dollar amount should be, and stick to that rule. For example, you may decide that either of you should not spend over $200 alone without talking to the other about the purchase first. Having this rule is not restricting – in fact, it saves a lot of post-shopping guilt, and potential arguments once the other person sees what you’ve bought. I read in an article (for women) once that one of the biggest ways a wife can respect her husband is to live within his means.
This attitude also allows you to prioritize purchases. Do we need that fun new couch now? Or do we have a larger need for a new vacuum instead? Have those conversations about what is the wisest purchase.
3 // Practical shopping. It’s tempting, once you’re making more money than you ever have before, to wander through the aisles of Target or the grocery store, picking up whatever strikes you as fun or yummy! 🙂 But this is one of the biggest areas where people stumble – with no restraint in the store (ahem, or online, fellow Amazon.com lovers!), you just may find yourself surprised and sad to see your bills at the end of the month. Impulse buying is one of those stumbling blocks I am still working on…but Bjorn says I have really improved! I have also needed to learn how to LISTEN to my practical husband when I’m in a store with him and I really want something totally unnecessary. 🙂 Let’s hold back on the impulse buys so we can invest and save for what we really need (and can enjoy) later on!
4 // Personal spending money for the “unnecessary.” Without specifically labeling what will be “fun spending money” for each of you…well, then ALL money becomes fun spending money! Having boundaries like this is what keeps me from getting 2 massages a month and ordering excessively from Amazon. 😉 And once you get used to these boundaries, it becomes easier to say no to unnecessary smaller purchases, as you can see the big picture of how you can save up for something bigger you want.
That’s it for this week! Watch for Part 2 of this mini-series coming next week! 🙂
Finally, know that Bjorn and I are not absolute experts on money. Opinions, at the end of the day, are opinions, and you may have totally different ways of running your household finances. But after learning to use money as wisely as we can as a team, we wanted to share with you what we have discovered thus far!! We hope it brings you something to think about, or even a new system/rule you want to try. Most of all, remember that money is something (temporary) that God, the ultimate Provider, has entrusted to us. How we humans deal with money determines whether or not we will bring glory to Him in the process. We want to mimic Solomon in the Bible, as we continue to pray for God’s wisdom in dealing with our earthly gifts and circumstances.
How about you? What financial advice have you come to learn over the years? Did any of these tips resonate with you or strike you as something you already do?