DH = Dear Husband
Budget meetings and bickering
I was relieved to read Hannah’s post at Unplanned Finance this past week. “It gets worse first” gives a little peak into the not-so-pretty reality of her initial budget meetings with her husband. “Although Rob and I were ostensibly on a team, we were barely putting up with each other’s financial eccentricities,” writes Hannah, “and our monthly budget meetings were our first opportunities to voice our frustrations . . . I remember seething with anger when Rob told me he wanted to buy new socks and underwear (he has expensive tastes in socks and underwear). I remember when I told Rob that I just wanted to be able to buy a $.75 soda, and he had spent all our fun money on windshield wipers. Windshield wipers are not fun!”
Why relieved? It was a reassurance that DH and I are not the only ones whose budget meetings are less than romantic. This morning, before going to church, we looked at our numbers for October. Our finances have become a mess since the beginning of the summer. DH’s off-the-chart business in June, his home office renovations, my taking on summer school, our de-cluttering mission – it all led to chaos on more than one front. We knew this was going to be a “clean up the mess” budget meeting. And it ended up being – well – messy.
I won’t go into details, but at a particularly low point, I said, “Now you’re just being an a**hole.” As soon as we had finished with the budget, I marched upstairs in stony silence to get ready for church (the irony does not escape me), and when DH came up to do the same, we just looked at each other and laughed. When will we get this budget meeting thing right?!
“So, it took a year for us to be a team,” Hannah says. “Our budget meetings are now something I look forward to, but it took a year.” I wish I could say the same! We’re over three years into our journey out of debt, and we have yet to enjoy a pleasant budget meeting. They’re not always as bad as today’s, but they have never been something to look forward to. I believe that our budget meetings have been the single most important agent of our debt-reduction to date. They’re just so fraught with tension and irritability.
Financial Peace University
Church was particularly great today, and after the service, I spoke with a man I’ll call Andy. Right after DH and I spoke at church last November about our journey out of debt, Andy told DH how much our testimony had moved him. He’d had years of financial struggle, and he wanted to take the road to debt-freedom too. We lent him our copy of Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover, and he read it with intensity, sharing it with his wife.
In a conversation Andy had with his mother a few weeks later, he mentioned his intention to start getting out of debt by following Ramsey’s steps. As it turned out, his mother had purchased Ramsey’s Financial Peace University kit, and offered to give it to Andy so that he could lead a class at church. “I’m not ready to do that now,” he told his mom, “but I will some day.” Andy told us that he wanted our support in leading the course, and we told him he would have it.
Today, Andy said he felt ready. So in the next few weeks, there’s a good chance that we’ll be helping to lead a class at our church about getting to debt freedom. Andy made it clear to me that he is still struggling to change his ways. “It can be so hard,” I said to him in understanding. “We just had a budget meeting this morning, and we got into a big argument. It’s been three years, and we still argue when we make our budget!” Andy’s face showed some cheer. “That’s actually encouraging for me to hear,” he said.
I knew what he meant. Just as I felt relief in reading Hannah’s account of her (at least initially) unpleasant budget meetings, Andy felt relief in knowing that DH and I had argued about our budget this morning. He felt an assurance that he and his wife were not the only ones struggling with the ins and outs of finances.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Financial Peace University is all about. I’m ready to support Andy in presenting it to others who are looking for guidance to eliminate their debts. A few imperfect leaders is probably just what is required. I’ll keep you posted.
Do you feel relief when you realize you’re not the only one struggling with something? Have you taken part in a Financial Peace University class? Your comments are welcome.