A little more than a week ago, my wife, Mandy, and I had the pleasure of interviewing a newlywed couple for our podcast. We interviewed Chris and Ashleigh Wisslead who have been married for about seven to eight months. Many topics about marriage were discussed and I encourage you to check it out. I wanted to specifically share with you, the reader, our discussion about handling finances. Last week, I posted the first half of our conversation about money and marriage. So, as promised, here is the second half:
Mike: Because that’s one of the things people fight about, especially at first (money). And that’s one of the reasons, quite honestly, that we wanted to start doing this podcast and why I ever got into financial coaching. I kept hearing from people over and over again “I wish we would have known this stuff when we were first married. I wish we would have known this stuff when we were first married. So, that’s kind of my mission in life. And I think you guys are confirming that it’s huge, like you guys said, you did this stuff and got it figured out before you were even married and I just think that’s critical.
Chris: Right! Good practice for us really was when we got engaged, to pay for our wedding, I mean we paid for almost all of our wedding, so we had a joint account. That’s the only money we shared. We had a certain amount direct deposited into one account and that’s what all the bills from our wedding came from. So, that was a good practice for us to kind of budget our money there and know what we were going to allocate to what and just kind of talk back and forth. So, once we were married, we already had a foundation in place as far as sharing our funds and everything.
Mandy: And don’t you think, I feel like I’m leading you to a certain answer but I’ll think you’ll agree with me, that having those goals and then being able to achieve them gives you like that victory to celebrate together?
Ashleigh: Oh, yeah. I think that’s one thing too. Well, we’ve paid off a couple, paid off my car and then we paid off a couple of student loans and every time one of those small victories comes along he’s the first person I call: “I paid off that student loan” and then for him to be like “Booya! Get it girl!” You know? It’s just like “yeah, we’re in it together”. And, I do, I have more loans than he does from school. But, never have I felt…you know, it’s all ours now. And that’s too bad for him, but, at this point, it is. It’s a challenge that we’re working at together. If that means that we put a house on hold or that means that we put a couch on hold, which sometimes that not the most fun, but we enjoy our small couch even the more.
Mike: Mandy and I had hand-me-down couches for, what, for 6 years. 2 years ago we finally bought our first couch. Thanks to the George Bush stimulus, which was totally a waste, but anyway, it got us a new couch.
Mandy: We stimulated the furniture business.
Mike: They told us to go stimulate the economy, so let’s go buy a couch, finally instead of this, like, futon that was a hand-me-down.
Mandy: It was, it was a futon.
Chris: That’s our only financial disagreement is Ashleigh loves those big tax returns and I want to pay nothing and I want to get nothing back.
Mike: Yes! Sorry, Ashleigh, but he’s correct. I really do think, though, that for people who are not on a plan that really can be helpful, so to speak. It’s like our little saving plan. I think when you’re on a plan, though, it’s kind of silly though because you’re actually giving the government an interest-free loan of your money and you could be putting that money on your debt snowball, for example.
Ashleigh: I know, but it feels so good, gosh-darnit.
Mike: In fact, because I think it’s important for people who are listening, that are newly married, that maybe came in with some debt and that type of thing. You know, you mentioned that you’re obviously paying it down it sounds like. You mentioned the debt snowball and extra money on student loans and stuff like that. So, what ways have you guys sacrificed or found ways to cut expenses in order to eliminate debt because there’s probably a lot of people thinking “oh, that sounds nice, but I just don’t think we can do that”?
Chris: Well, we were listening to one of your guys’ webcasts before when you were talking about the furnace and stuff. When I was in college, I didn’t even know if my furnace or air conditioning worked because neither one of them were ever on and I’ve kind of carried that over to my married life. Granted, I do turn the air conditioning on a little bit. We keep it under 90 in the summertime and about 60 in the wintertime. So, we cut back there. We get basic tv, you know, off the rabbit ears.
Mike: What? Don’t you need a hundred and thirty channels to survive?
Ashleigh: Turns out you end up playing Yahtzee or Chris plays video games and I’ll read baby name books. I don’t know, we find different things to do. But, we were just talking about this because, you know, with the baby coming and stuff we’re just trying to find ways to make life changes. You know, where are we going to need to sacrifice? How can we provide the best life? And we’re just trying to kinda cut corners and we look at our budget and we’re like “Oh, geez. We already cut a lot of corners.” So, we don’t have cable. That’s one thing. WE don’t have house repairs to do because we are still renting. And I know a lot of people think that’s a giant waste of money, but, at this point in our lives it provides flexibility for us. And we’re not stuck with selling a house, we’re not stuck with a mortgage payment. You know, depending on where graduation takes me or where Chris’s job takes him, we have that flexibility to go. Because we don’t know if this is where we want to be forever. So, at this point in our life, that’s one of the things that we’ve cut. We don’t have a couch, we don’t have bedroom furniture. We borrow a lot. Like, baby clothes and stuff are going to be borrowed. There’s just a lot of little things you really can save on and you realize that the necessity of a beautiful house, it doesn’t really lie in the furniture and it doesn’t really lie in the things. Chris’s car isn’t the best.
Chris: Yeah, we don’t have amenities. I still drive the same car that I had in high school.
Mike: Nice, we just finally got past that stage. And, again, I think that is key, like you said, it’s just a matter of priorities and stuff. And, so, unfortunately, I think we’re all told all the time that we’re crazy for not having this or having that. And bringing up the renting thing is a good point because, yeah, there’s a lot of extra costs. You know, real estate taxes that you guys don’t have to worry about. Like we talked about an episode ago, a furnace blowing up doesn’t affect you as far as financially speaking. Or a $10,000 roof because the roof’s leaking all of a sudden. You know, or just stuff like that. And I know Mandy and I kind of messed that part up. We got house fever. (Mandy!) got house fever a little too early. And so we rented the first year and then bought a house. It worked out fine at first until we had our oldest, Aly and Mandy wanted to stay home. We were like “we can’t make that house payment anymore.” It was fine, it was plenty lined up with our income before. But, then, after that, it didn’t. Anyway, we do wish, because a lot of the time paying off our debt was while we were in that house and we do talk about often how we could have done it much quicker if we would have stayed in that dang apartment.
Ashleigh: Yeah, and I will admit, too, house fever does strike. You know, you can’t deny that that’s not a reality: everybody wants a place, you know, that you call home and you can do what you want with the walls and make it look just like you want it. But, in reality, we keep forgetting to (well, we don’t keep forgetting), we have to remind ourselves that somebody’s got to furnish that house. We don’t even have a large enough couch to take up a wall on our apartment. So, our house is going to look a little silly with this tiny little couch.
Mike: Yeah, Mandy’s big problem with our apartment was that it was too brown.
Mandy: Everything was brown.
Ashleigh: Ours is too white, I say that all the time.
Mandy: Oh, everything was brown. I even asked Mike can we please just tell the landlord that we’re going to put new flooring in because Mike’s family owned a flooring store. Mike’s like: “We are not putting new flooring in an apartment. I was like: “please!”.
Mike: Yeah, it was a lot of brown. You know and that’s a very mature decision: “let’s stop renting and buy a house because this is just too brown.” But, we were young.
Ashleigh: It just wears you out sometimes, it’s too white here, I understand.
Mike: It does.
Hopefully, you got some ideas from what Chris and Ashleigh had to say about money and their marriage. If you’re interested in the other things we discussed, then go to the podcast and check it out.