DH = Dear Husband
After four months of being on hold with our debt reduction, this week we were finally in a position to take another slice out of Debt #3, our business debt. DH looked at the spreadsheet on which we track all of our expenses and said that we’d be able to put down $5,000 for the month of October. I felt great about ending our stalemate with a number like that. We made an outing of it, driving over to the bank together to deposit the cheque. While DH did the banking, I walked across the parking lot to Tim Hortons to pick up some celebratory coffee. Cheers!
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that DH and I have had huge expenses to take care of lately. The rotting sugar maple in our backyard had to be cut down, coming in at $2,000. And our roof had to be replaced for a staggering $10,000. When DH studied that spreadsheet last week, the tree expense had already been paid, and our balance indicated that we were in a position to pay our soon-to-come roof bill handily. The only problem was that the spreadsheet was wrong.
Shifting Patterns of Relationship
I’ve noticed a slow shifting in the patterns of our relationship when it comes to financial management. I think that with most couples, it is accepted that one person is better than the other in dealing with household finances. Usually, that person is the one who does the leg work in paying the bills. Usually, that person has the stronger voice in decisions about what to buy and when to buy it. It’s natural and even desirable, when it comes to couples, for respective strengths and weaknesses to complement one another so that the combination of the two partners makes both stronger. But it’s not so desirable when an accepted weakness in one or the other is reinforced by patterns in the relationship. And I think that’s been the case with us. Subtle eye-rolling frustration expressed by DH; my own playing the “cute” card in an “I just don’t know how the money leaves my wallet so fast,” kind of way; DH’s tendency to be impatient when I’d try to discuss something of a financial nature; my avoidance of conflict by spending in a sneaky way. Not healthy.
Since we’ve been on our journey out of debt, I have confronted my financially inept “inner cutie-pie”; I have been upfront about my spending – whether good or bad; and I have yanked my head out of the sand to engage in the management of the details. In facing my own financial faults, my eyes have been opened to something else: DH’s financial faults. He’s always been better that I have been with money. But he’s not perfect. One weakness in particular that has come to light has been his lack of will to meet with me regularly to look at our budget. When that budget is neglected, the numbers stray. And that’s why our balance on the spreadsheet was wrong – out by about $1,500.
We’d already put our $5,000 against the debt, so now we wouldn’t have enough for the roof. Ugh! Early in the week I came home from work to find out about our shortfall, and as the representative from the roofing company was driving to our place to collect payment, we were trying to figure out how we would make up for it. We hadn’t once increased our line of credit since starting our journey out of debt, and I was disheartened to think that now we would have to. Then DH thought of our mutual discretionary fund – the $200 per month we’ve been putting aside since we’re not hiring house cleaners any more. We use it to pay for “wants” as opposed to “needs”. Since the spring, it had been growing untouched. And it amounted to $1,500. We had our sights set on a new sofa with that $1,500, but I’d much rather put up with worn out furniture than go back into debt. And that’s how we paid for our roof in its entirety, despite the slip-up in budgeting.
Two Milestones Passed
It was a sloppy re-entry into debt reduction. But we did it. And that $5,000 brought us past two milestones. Our business debt, which started out at $80,800, had hovered above the $60,000 mark for five long months. That barrier has now been broken. Debt #3 is down to $56, 000. And our overall debt, which started out at $257, 000, is officially under the $200, 000 mark. We’re at $199, 200. These are still very big numbers, but the milestones are significant. And as our debt goes down, in fits and starts, DH and I are morphing through the mess, forming new and healthier patterns of relationship.