How could love and money ever be a problem? When two people marry, there can be that idea that you and your significant other will agree on the important things – like finances. You know each other so well; you agree on so many things; how could it be hard? Even people who talk about finances might not be “talking” about finances.
I know a lot of things about our financial situation – I knew my husband paid for this and I paid for that. I knew my husband had this much money in savings and investments and that much in debt. He knew my numbers. We knew lots of things and made lots of plans, but it was largely my plans and his plans. Honestly, I didn’t even realize we were doing this until I started this blog.
Love and Money: The talk
Recently I started thinking a little differently about how we handled our finances and started asking some questions. I sat down with my husband and as it turns out, we have $29,000 in consumer debt. Here is the breakdown:
Line of Credit: $17000.00
Credit Card: $10500.00
Store Credit Card: $1200.00
I knew all of these numbers individually but until I sat down with my husband and did the math on everything combined, this was big news to me. I then asked about the plan for paying down the debt and I was met with silence. Then there were crickets. Then some tumbleweeds rolled by. Sigh…
As it turns out, we were only able to make the minimum payments on each account because all our money was tied up. We made $140,000 last year and could only afford minimum payments. In all fairness, we did have some pretty big expenses like planning our wedding and buying a house in the last year. We also had an unanticipated expense of $10,000 that needed to be paid within that time period as well.
So we needed a plan of action, we sat down and put together a strategy for how we were going to deal with all this debt. This is what we came up with:
Currently, I am covering for a maternity leave position and am making extra money totalling $360.00 per paycheck.
- Credit Card: We have set up a plan for husband and I to pay towards the Visa until we’re under our spending limit of $10,000 by May 3rd to avoid over limit fees and other extra charges.
- Store Credit Card: Husband will make his usual payment and I will use my extra money to help pay off the $1300 high interest store credit card by June 26th.
- Back to Credit Card: After June, I will refocus and use the extra money to pay down the credit card and to bring the balance to $7000 by August 24th. (I wanted specific dates so these goals were real – they coincide with my pay days, hence the randomness)
In total, we’ll have paid off $4300.00 of our consumer debt in four months and will have eliminated a high interest debt (29.99%) and overlimit fees on our credit card.
Love and Money: Cutting costs
Currently, we spend between $800 to $900 on groceries every month for two adults and one teenager – I’m literally cringing as I write these numbers. We did a little research and found a great tip on Canadian Budget Binder to shop three times a month instead of four. The idea is that you can live off what’s in your pantry and fridge for the last week instead of stockpiling more stuff that’s likely to expire or start molding. It prevents waste, forces us to get creative, and saves us money. Total three-way win. We are starting this next weekend and will live off the pantry of plenty – saving us $200 and using up food that would otherwise spoil.
Our goal is to cut down our grocery bill to $650 a month and shopping three times in a month is only our first step. We will continue to research and learn more ways to save money in this area so we can start living within our new grocery budget limit. The extra money that we save from groceries will go towards husband’s entertainment fund as his is sitting at $220 a month – which is not realistic for either of us to live on right now.
Love and Money: Increasing Income
Currently we do not have a sustainable way to pay down our debt, build an emergency fund, or hope to go on a vacation of any sort. We’re talking vacation a la pup tent in the backyard might be a financial stretch for us right now. With this in mind, we have planned to take on a roommate who will reside in our furnished basement downstairs. We believe this can bring in an extra $700 a month, $200 to be saved in case there is a rise in utilities or other household expenditures associated with having a roommate. The remaining five hundred will be divvied up between building an emergency fund; putting away for something fun; and paying down debt. We still have to work out when the roommate will come but the plan is to start getting our basement ready this weekend (Shhh, husband doesn’t know this part yet).
Husband will also look for job and salary promotions at other companies since his current company is quite small and doesn’t offer reasonable opportunities for advancement. I will also look for other opportunities that offer increases in salary and hours since I currently only work part time.
Even though we talked about some pretty gnarly things last night, I think we were able to work through a lot of stuff that would have eventually put stress on our marriage if we hadn’t dealt with them. We have a plan and a forward direction. I am content.
Skinny Seahorse Project Life – February Part Deux *Dianne does these wonderful things with pics of her little ones – like digital scrapbooking. Worth checking out!
Canadian Budget Binder Is Budget Failure Your Own Fault? *As usual, Mr. CBB brings it with a great perspective on budgeting being “Life’s business.”
Making Sense of Cents Should I Pay Off My House Early? *Michelle has a good list of pros and cons for getting rid of your mortgage.
Dianne @ Skinny Seahorse says
Thanks for the Link Love!! $4,300 in 4 months! Thats awesome. High five.
Lindsey @ Cents & Sensibility says
Thanks Dianne! Go enjoy your blogcation!
I think you’ve got a great plan! Having actual dates are a big motivator, for sure. Writing them down on a calendar and/or other places in your house also helps keep the dates in the foremost in both of your minds.
Also, good on you guys for looking for more income/other streams of income. You guys will be outta this consumer debt in no time! 🙂
Lindsey @ Cents & Sensibility says
Yes, I think the roommate will offer us an extra layer of security until we’re able to pay down some of our debt and build up an emergency fund. Who knows, maybe we’ll even like having that extra person around!
Thanks for commenting!
A solid plan is the first step! Good on you guys for sitting down to take stock of the situation.
Sounds fantastic! The hardest part for us was writing everything down and seeing the numbers.
We’ve been at this a year now (the part where we’re both on the same page with the same actual goal) and we’ve made some great strides. Had some huge set backs but we just keep getting back on the horse to ride another day.
Can’t wait to see your progress and give you a big high five!
Matt Becker says
Sounds like you guys have started making a great plan! Talking about this stuff is so important. Luckily for me, I have a great wife who’s awesome to talk over everything with. It’s a huge help to be on the same page. Good luck with all of these new habits!
Lindsey D says
Thank you for the vote of confidence! It helps to have a great spouse that is on the page with finances! We’re getting there with being on the same page but I think it will still take some work!
Sounds like you have a great plan. The $500/month will be a huge help. Everyone will tell you something different but in my unsolicited opinion I don’t think one should tie up too much money in an emergency fund while in debt. $1000 should suffice. Once you have an emergency fund (2 mos for you!) throw it all on debt but if something happens in the mean time and you have no ER fund you’ll likely have to turn to borrowing of some kind. On the same note if you have enough in your ER fund to cover a $1000 insurance deductible but your deductibles are currently lower (like $250-500) have them raised and save more money each month in your budget. Higher deductible=lower monthly payments 🙂
Lindsey D says
It’s an important step but I have to say, it was a difficult conversation. Husband wasn’t making it difficult, it was just hard to look everything in the face be ause it was scary!
However, I think this will save us from even harder conversations in the future.Thanks for commenting.