Whether you’re newlyweds or celebrating your 25th wedding anniversary, it’s never too late to start buckling down and focusing on your finances. Trent and I have learned so much from our money mistakes in our almost five years of marriage. We have gone from paying off over $20,000 in debt to saving over $8,000 all within a little over a year. One of the most important things we learned about being married is that communication is the most important part of being married. That means communicating about everything from your hopes and dreams to your worst fears and yes, even your financial goals.
I hope you read this and really learn from our money mistakes. A “do as I say, not as I do” kind of situation, as my mother would say.
Money Mistake #1: We didn’t communicate enough
In almost every marriage, you have a spender and a saver by nature. Which are you? We have since meshed into a very happy medium, but in the beginning, I was the saver and Trent was the spender. Before we got married and during the first year, we didn’t really think to communicate what was important to us financially. I had never had to worry about money, thanks to my parents, and Trent was always in charge of his own thing. We both just assumed we were good to go. Don’t do that.
It is so important to make sure that you guys have completely open and honest communication. You need to discuss what is important to each of you (IE: savings, vacations, toys) and what you are willing to compromise on (IE: vacations, toys). You both need to agree on a spending limit per month as well.
Money Mistake #2: We didn’t set any goals
Trent set up a retirement account for us when we were 18-years old. He just knew we were meant to be 🙂 He set up that retirement account and then once he joined the military, he started a second retirement fund. Really, he just wanted to make sure we were good to go for our later years. Other than that, we really never communicated any financial goals we had. For me, mine was always to have no credit card debt. For Trent, he wanted to save for trips and toys. I’m not saying either is wrong, we just weren’t very aware of what the other was thinking or wanting financially.
Setting goals are extremely important because it keeps the both of you on track with your finances. It helps you to see where you’re at and how far you have to go. What are your goals? To buy a home? The honeymoon of a lifetime? Maybe pay off your student loans as quickly as possible? Those are all wonderful goals! Now you just need to figure out how it works best for both of you to compromise so you can reach all of them.
Money Mistake #3: We didn’t set a budget
We had money set aside and never missed a bill, but we definitely did NOT have a plan for the rest of our money. We spent it immediately and would try to scrape by for rest of the two weeks while we kept charging up the credit card. I highly suggest looking into Dave Ramsey’s programs…they are the best!
Money Mistake #4: We weren’t concerned with savings
If I had to pick one of the more important money lessons we learned after we got married it is how important it is to start saving as quickly as you can. Just like any other bill, you need to pay your savings account as well. We kept saying, “Oh, we’ll be fine!” or “We’ve got the rest of our lives to save.” While both of those might be true, we also racked up a lot of debt that way when it came to car repairs, weekend trips, and such.
Money Mistake #5: We furnished our entire home all at once
Please don’t make this mistake. We thought it was absolutely crucial that we had every room furnished and ready to go as soon as we moved in. If I could redo this, I would definitely furnish only one room at a time and furnish what we could afford. We spent almost $5,000 on furniture within two weeks of moving into our house. It was 0% interest for 12 months! No big deal, right? Jokes on us. We have never been so strapped for cash in our lives. We were paying a $450/mo furniture bill that we definitely couldn’t afford at the time.
Unfortunately, we really thought we needed to “keep up with the Jones” and make sure that our home was furnished and ready to go because everyone else had furnished homes that they hosted in. You couldn’t host a party without anywhere for your guests to sit, right? Wrong. Do not make this mistake!! It is much more rewarding and worth it to save up for each room one at a time. Besides, that gives you a little more time to afford nicer stuff and to get what you actually want. That $5,000 was spent on cheap furniture that we had to replace within 1.5 years.
Money Mistake #6: Both of us were NOT involved in our finances from the beginning
When we got married Trent said, “you’re in charge of paying the bills. Just keep me posted on how much we have to spend.” After that, he never looked at the bank account. Instead, he would charge the credit card because he didn’t know how much we had in checking. This was one of those things that had to come to an end and now he is very in tune with our finances.
All it takes is communication. You guys both need to check the bank accounts. You both need to understand what is going where. For us, a joint bank account was the only option we wanted to have. For some, separate checking accounts work better because of these reasons.
Money Mistake #7: We weren’t in agreement on how our money was spent
I was bound and determined to throw every free penny we had towards debt, which in turn made us charge up more debt because I would make us too short on money throughout the pay period to afford to stay out of debt. I’m not a patient person when it comes to debt payoff. I crunch numbers and do everything I can to pay it off as quickly as possible. This has definitely bitten me in the butt more times than it has helped, but somehow we’re still getting by without any debt!
Trent and I never really talked about how we should spend our money. What we should have done was sat down and talked to each other and figured out what was important to the both of us. After that, allocate a dollar amount to each category per pay period (IE: debt, vacation, savings, a new toy). Since Trent said, “you’re in charge of the money”, I took that and ran with it. I figured that meant I got to do what I wanted with it and Trent didn’t need to spend anything frivilous. I was wrong on that part!
We eventually talked about it more and more and came to an agreement. You need to figure out what you’re willing to compromise on and how you two can work together. If both of you don’t have the same mindset, you will never succeed in paying off debt or saving money. If the two of you not being able to agree on finances is the case, it might be a better idea to have separate bank accounts and credit card accounts. This way, you’re both in charge of how you handle your finances.
Money Mistake #8: We made excuses as to why we “needed” things
Do you have enough food and running water to feed your family this pay period? What about clothes to wear? Most importantly, do you have a roof over your head? If you’ve said yes to all these things, you don’t need anything else.
Trent and I seemed to always easily convince ourselves that we needed a new outfit for the gym or needed new decorations for the house. It’s a mindset like that that will keep you in debt and never let you out. We finally had to realize that we had to stop buying new clothes, stop going out (besides one date night a week), and stop buying stuff for the house. Easier said than done, right? Once we really put forth the effort to stop spending money, our finances did a complete 180! We started doing no-spend challenges, which you can read more about here. These challenges are something that we still do when we want to escalate our savings quickly. They are wonderful little challenges and really help you to bond and spend time together in ways you normally wouldn’t.
Figure out your priorities. You don’t need anything you see on social media. You don’t need to keep up with the Jones.