Money Honey

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I remember the day I left for college and my mom handed me a Suze Orman book, I always budgeted my own money, I always paid my own way. I had an allowance growing up and I did chores to earn it. I got my first paying job (though I worked for trade earlier than that) at 16 at a local nutrition store. I never relied on anyone to pay for me for anything, yes my family was generous and helped with big trips or expenses, but too much kindness always made me feel guilty.

So, I’m not sure what I thought when she handed me the book, a bit confused I guess. Like what advice did I need? ‘I already know everything about finances,’ thought the 19 year old child. Regardless, I read it, I read all her advice about saving and planning and spending and when I got to the section about relationships I delved in deep. My boyfriend at the time and I had been together already 3 or 4 years, we started dating in high school. We were planning on getting married and moving in together. So when Suze told me I needed to evaluate what marriage really meant, and that one part of marriage was, loving someone so much you’re willing to let them ruin you financially. I laughed at this, I loved my boyfriend more than money, thanks for your advice Suz, but we got this. moneyIt stuck with me though, we did get married, and I kept my own checking account, and he kept his. We split bills and paid for our own activities. We shared responsibilities like groceries and utilities. It worked for us. 

When I got pregnant, we discussed our options, I would stay home almost exclusively and we would only trust family and friends with our babies, no commercial childcare. It was the most cost effective option for us.

But it required me relying almost completely on my husband’s income. I still did the budgeting as I had for the past 10 years, I reminded him when our bills were due. I asked him to transfer money to me when he got paid, we opened a joint account but kept our personal ones, the joint one acted as a barrier, my money – my choice. He still couldn’t spend MY money, he couldn’t ruin me Suze.  

or so I told myself.

When his family business came crashing down around us, and I was just about to return to the workforce full time to pay off our stay-at-home-mom-debt (we had acquired while I was working so little), the love of my life did ruin me financially.

I let him.

It’s taken over a year for me to get to the point that I’m making enough money to cover our expenses, all the bad choices I let him make like investing in cars his income totally covered, until he didn’t have it. The spending I thought I could recover from once the kids were in school and out of paid preschool. The over priced organic groceries I justified charging when I went over budget. All of it. It’s taken thousands of dollars of therapy – no well paying job and no quality health insurance – just for us to stay together. I wanted to run away so many times, I wanted to just let him deal with the mess. But when it came down to it, he’s the father of my children, a really great father actually, and no matter what we’re connected because of them and always will be. I knew we had to work through the stress of life together. After all, money issues are the leading cause of divorce (more statistics about money and divorce here ).

So we did….or we are.

I’m honestly not even sure what the point of me sharing this story is, maybe because I have no where else to let out all my thoughts on this issue, or maybe because if you’re dealing with this stress and resenting your other half – know that it can get better. It’s only money after all, there are options for getting out of debt, it’s not like a serious illness, it’s printed paper. I guess looking back I would tell 23 year old me to skip the legal marriage, have the ceremony, make the commitments, but don’t let the credit bureau get involved in our relationship. Maybe don’t put the cars in names that can’t pay them alone, or maybe I’d say do it all over again, because the fights and the conversations drove our bond and problem solving deeper, it forced me to step up to a level I didn’t know I was capable of obtaining. I don’t know, maybe I’m sharing it to hear your stories, do you share your finances with your partner? Who is the ‘bread winner’? What’s your back up plan if things change? Do you have joint checking and savings? Do you talk about money with your kids? 

Interested on more money talk? Read about The Envelope Budgeting System and Teaching Kids About Money

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Jennifer is a Phoenix native, mother to two wild toddlers and is married to her high school sweetheart. She graduated from The University of Arizona with a B.F.A. in Art education with an emphasis in painting in 2008. She is an Art Teacher, Artist, and Semi-professional Photographer. She loves to talk about all things natural, and is always planning her next family adventure. She started the blog hawks and honey to share about everyday life including her local food club project. In 2014, she started hawks & honey apparel, and loves being a part of the Phoenix creative community. Her favorite color is black. And she will never RSVP ‘with regrets’ to a wedding.

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