Money. We all have different relationships with money. Some of us loathe money because there isn’t enough to stretch between the bills and necessities. Others of us have a good relationship with money because it buys our Android phones, iPads, televisions, vacations, and more. While I would like to think that love is what makes the world go around, the truth is that money is essential to getting through each day. Being intentional with our finances is a must. Despite feeling like budgeting is akin to throwing a pair of dice at a casino, handing our finances takes hard work and discipline.
What does being intentional with finances mean?
The saying “a place for everything and everything in its place” teaches us to be intentional with the things in our lives. When we have a place for everything and we put it away we are being responsible. We must use that same schematic to apply to money and our monthly budget. Every dollar should serve a purpose and you should know what purpose each dollar has.
Dreaming of a Better Life
My husband and I were married in 2003. He had just graduated college and I had just started graduate school. We both grew up poor and accrued student loan debt in college. My dear sweet husband also racked up credit card debt (around $10,000) over the course of college. I was afraid of debt (and still am – my dad claimed bankruptcy 3 times by the time I was 22) and did not have any credit card debt. Once we were married my husband’s $10,000 worth of debt became my debt too.
The first few years of our marriage lacked self-discipline from both of us. We were living off of his meager salary and my student loans since I was completing grad school. We had enough money to pay our bills and indulge a little too, or so we thought since all the bills were being paid. It became easy to see that small indulgences truly added up. A new TV was purchased a few weeks before the car needed new brakes and we didn’t add the prices of those things together. We saw a new TV and bought it without thinking about the future or the consequences of our impulse buy. We didn’t know about budgeting. We were playing the balance transfer game where we would transfer all of the credit card with 0% interest and no transfer fee…..then when we were about to be charged interest we would switch cards and play the game all over again. We were working ourselves out of credit card debt and being intentional about that, but not dealing with any of our other money.
During those years I did all of our finances with the rule of a control freak. My husband didn’t know when the bills were due nor did he know where the checkbook was. I thought that by taking charge and making sure we were digging ourselves out of debt that I was doing a good thing. I didn’t realize that I was putting a strain on our relationship and new marriage. Things escalated and we fought about the control of money and money itself. I had to let go. My husband became the bill payer and we started having monthly budget meetings. As a team we started to become intentional with our finances.
Set Financial Goals
What are your financial goals? Do you want to pay off your student loans or buy a house with cash? You could also aspire to create an emergency fund, save money for a new car, or go on a long vacation. Our first financial goal was to get rid of our credit card debt. Despite feeling like we needed to keep up with the Joneses after we moved to Georgia (and dealing with Coupon Stereotypes) we payed off our van early, created an emergency fund, and started saving money.
What are your financial goals? Do your dollars have a purpose? It’s OK if the purpose of your money is to get you from paycheck to paycheck while paying rent and buying groceries. Just reading this is taking the first steps towards financial freedom. With hard work you will persevere. Are you at a point where you can help others (whether it be with cash donations or items you get for free each week)? Once you know where your money is going and what your goals are you will feel empowered. Know the purpose of each of your dollars.