Before I Learned To Budget
Today I painfully swiped my debit card to make another $350 payment to the midwife (because my insurance sucks). I watched my little tax return nest egg dip even lower and I was reminded of how we got into this financial mess in the first place 7 years ago. I love my husband, but to put it frankly…I didn’t marry for MONEY! I’ve never expected to have a lot of money, and that’s a good thing because I never have.
We knew right off the bat when we started dating that we wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom when we had children. When we first got married in 2004 we were both working 2 jobs and going to school. We had a cute little house in a not so cute neighborhood but it was super cheap and we were making it. We didn’t really follow a budget because we were both working and we thought we were doing pretty good.
I guess we were too naïve to realize that when we left birth control in God’s hands (as in none) that we’d be having kids RIGHT AWAY. More importantly, we hadn’t thought ahead to the fact that having a baby would literally cut our income in half. We’d been married for a few months when we found out I was pregnant. I was so excited. I went over to my sister MéLisa’s house and peed on a stick. Together we formed a plan with a fabulous surprise dinner date to spring it on my unsuspecting husband. I was super nauseous… but super happy.
Financially things didn’t change much to begin with. We both still worked and went to school. Work got more interesting because I had severe morning sickness and it was a very active job. I worked as a chiropractic assistant. My job entailed putting a patient on therapy with the new added bonus of running to the nearest garbage can to puke my guts out. I still feel sorry for those poor patients…lying face down…horrified and trapped on the therapy tables. Despite the morning sickness (that continued my ENTIRE pregnancy) I managed to keep working until I was 8 months pregnant. Note to self: we should have SAVED THAT MONEY!
Along with my day job I also worked part time at a movie theater. I regret to say that my first baby had a steady diet of free popcorn and red slushies. It was around this time with no savings that we made a HORRIBLE financial decision. Money went from tight to gone when we took a vacation to Disneyworld with my extended family. It was such a bad financial decision that when we came back we were literally eating on Target gift cards leftover from our wedding. Go chips and salsa!
At this point we had too much “pride” to really be open about our finances with anyone. But, my sister is actually quite astute and she had a solution. I could nanny her 3 kids. So, we sold our house and moved into the big new house with my sister for the next year. It was fun, although challenging at times. We had a temporary reprieve from financial meltdown. Still, even with a place to live we ended up spending everything we made!
I know you can’t go back and you shouldn’t regret decisions you make. So newlyweds, here’s my advice:
Cut back on unnecessary expenses (cable, eating out, etc.) and save up every penny you can BEFORE you have kids. You may have to have a few more “home dates” but it’s so worth it in the long run. If you’re really smart you’ll save BEFORE you get married. Or you can wind up like me and day dream about how things might be different if you had