When they heard about our debt-escape adventure, my awesome aunt and uncle offered us a subscription to Financial Peace University. We reasoned that we could use all the knowledge and motivation we could get our hands on as we go through this process, so we took them up on the offer. We did the first lesson this weekend after getting signed up. I could hardly wait to begin.
It’s true. I am a nerd. Dave Ramsey even told me so in Lesson 2 of FPU. If I could have fit personal finance classes into my college schedule, I would have. However, if you look at my transcript you will see that I did plenty of nerding out in other areas, and a girl has to have priorities. You know, like a practical class (or two or three) on Ancient Greek. I did not marry a nerd, however. I married a free spirit, according to Dave. And although my free spirit is becoming just as worked up about our debt as I am, I decided to make a mini-date-night out of FPU Lesson 2 to add a little pizazz.
Every Sunday, we sit down with our planners and work out the details of our week. This is great for keeping my sanity, but essential since we share a car. So, Sunday I suggested that on Tuesday we do a lesson of FPU together and then go to slice night to talk about it. (Ah, the cheap-pizza-related joys of living in college town.) I received a hearty “Yes!” to my brilliant idea. I was also informed last night that slice night was the dream that got him through the day. (Don’t worry, I’m sure he meant being with me at slice night.)
I must have been filled with the spirit when this slice night idea came out of my mouth, because in Lesson 2, Dave informed us that the nerds and the free-spirits needed to meet up for a monthly budget meeting. He told me (and the other nerds) that I was to prepare the budget. No problem–already done. He also told Dexter (and the other free spirits) that they needed to change things on the budget. Apparently, most nerds have troube letting the free spirits make changes. But not me! My very flexible husband who trusts me and thinks I am really smart generally gives an okay to my budget without making any changes. But I am dancing around, wringing my hands, hyperventilating, (all mentally, don’t worry) wishing he would change something because I don’t know if I’m pinching too many pennies or if I’m dumping money bags out the window. I worry about whether my judgment is right or wrong and I don’t want things to be my choice alone, because then I feel like all the little mistakes are my mistake alone and that they are a big deal and that I am a terrible person and I will keep us in debt forever and ever…and it’s a dangerous mental path. So, I was thrilled with Dave’s command that Dexter had to make changes.
Dexter and I aren’t really prone to big fights about anything, including money, but just talking about our perspctives on each other’s roles and attitudes was a little tense. We realized that we were trying to read each other’s minds about the budget and the process of getting it together, and we were both wrong. (Surprise! The mind-reading tactic usually works so well in marriage.) I thought that Dexter didn’t make changes to the budget because he wasn’t being thoughtful, but Dexter wasn’t making changes because he trusted me and didn’t want to insult my intelligence. Now that he knows what kind of input I truly want from him and I know why he hesitates to offer it, we can both be understanding of each other and effective in our conversations.
At Old Chicago, we were seated right away even though the parking lot and waiting area were full. We ordered, and I slid the budget across the table just like Dave said to do. We went through each item, I added in things I forgot, corrected a mistake, and rearranged the numbers a little. We discussed how much personal spending money is enough and how much is too much (and we still don’t know). I put our clothes budget into perspective by talking about how many shoes, pants, and shirts it can buy in a year. We anticipated how fabulous our month starting April 15 will be because it won’t involve car insurance, the license and taxes for our car, the arm and the leg we owe to the feds, a CSA membership, or a marriage conference.
Who knew talking to your best friend about money could be so fun? Do you have any bad-communication-turned-good stories? Any breakthrough conversations to share? Any tips for talking money? I’d love to read about them here!