I don’t claim to know a lot about how to be smart with money, nor do I have a lot of it. But I do know one thing: it plays an important role in your relationship with your woman.
Mimi and I have started to take some classes called Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and it has helped me reflect on the issues centered around money. I’ve learned that money represents power, trust, and security in a relationship, so when it’s misused, these are the first things to crumble. As a man, there are three important things to be aware of when it comes to mula.
Commit to “providing” no matter how much you make.
Most men, including myself, can be very prideful. Most of us were raised to believe that being a man needs to be the one who is making the most money in the relationship—that’s how most people understand “providing” for the family. But studies show that almost half of households today have both spouses working. So what does that mean for our role as the “provider”?
A few years ago my Mimi and I were both looking for a job. Mimi found hers first—a decent-paying first job, doing exactly what she wanted to do. At first I responded with wounded pride—I was negative and jealous. Why does she get to have what she wants? What about me? But then I had a game changing realization: this isn’t a competition. And being the “provider” means more than just making the most money.
While I knew it was still important to work hard to find a job, I also saw that there were other things I could do to run the household as well. At the time, we had just moved in to a new apartment, so I spent a lot of my days fixing up the house: going through boxes and putting things away. I got to use my hands and build a bathroom cabinet to put over our toilet. Each day I wanted to show my wife the progress I had made. I learned how to cook different meals and prepared them for us at night. After the house was put together, I made sure the home was clean by the time she got home so she could rest and relax when she arrived.
I also took over the budget and made sure bills got paid. This helped me to feel like I was in the in with our money. I talked to Mimi about where we were in our budget and how we could save. For example, it was my idea to change phone providers and get cheaper plans. I suggested we buy a modernized TV antenna and cut our cable. We still get all the main channels, including my Sunday football, but without the monthly bill. Since I’m a guy who used to eat fast food all the time, I had to get the discipline to make meals from home more and encouraged Mimi to do the same. Mimi appreciated all of these efforts and in the end our family-first attitudes dues played a big role in our financial stability.
Be the man with the plan.
Debt that grows faster than we can pay off can cause a lot of stress and will cause lack of trust between a couple, because it makes us wonder if our partners are spending the family’s money well. Helping to create an actual budget helps to alleviate this stress and also offers you an opportunity to guide your family toward smart spending decisions.
We should know exactly how much we take in every month and how much we spend. Start with fixed costs like your rent/mortgage, loans, utilities, car payments, cell phone and Internet bills. Then write down variable costs like groceries and gas. Then you can look at the areas where you can save. One way a man can step up to the plate as the Provider is to help create a budget for our family and make sacrifices where needed. Can I resist going to McDonald’s and eat at home instead? Yes. Can I wait until that movie out in theatres comes out on RedBox? Yes.
To make sure we were still having some fun, Mimi and I adopted a concept we call “fun money”. It’s money allotted to each other each month that we get to spend on anything we want— like me grabbing a couple beers with the guys or Mimi grabbing Starbucks lattes with her friends—with no questions asked.
Don’t let discouragement bring you down.
When I was unemployed and looking for a job, I was tempted to feel jealous and sulk. It’s natural to want to be the guy who “brings home the bacon,” but you aren’t doing anyone any good if you decide to give up on trying to support your family. The most important thing I did during my time out of a job was refuse to let myself feel sorry for myself. And bless Mimi’s heart, she never made me feel I was giving any less. She knew I was still being productive and all she cared about was that I stayed present to her and that we lived within our means. I got to provide that for her.
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