As Racer and I teach Financial Peace University, we’re learning a lot. Yes, we’re learning about God’s ways of handling money, but we’re also learning much about ourselves. And that’s why a budget is such a funny thing.
As we work out our budget together, we’re learning about our own styles. I’m a spending nerd. Racer is a saving free-spirit. I like to spend, but make sure everything lines up, the numbers match, we have a plan and every penny is accounted for (so I can spend them). Racer is laid-back, doesn’t like to be boxed into a plan, wants freedom, but saves and doesn’t need to spend every dollar (except at gift-giving times).
And as we know these things about ourselves, we can know more about the other too. Self-awareness allows us to be other-aware. And being other-aware makes our relationship stronger. We communicate better, we give the other the space that s/he needs, we understand the space the other exists within.
And making and tracking a budget together (not just me or not just him, but us, together), has caused us to be more honest together. I can no longer hide the coffee or impromptu lunch conversation. I have to be accountable for my time and my spending. Racer can no longer let his travel help him ignore some of the home repair needs and long-term family goals. Our budget and money management is no longer solely on my shoulders and that is a good thing.
You know the funniest thing about budgeting together? It’s helped us dream together. When we have to talk about money for now together, we get to ask the question “Why?” together. Why are we paying off debt? Why are we giving? Why are we saving? Why are we prioritizing wants in this way? Why do we think this need requires more/less of our dollars? Asking “Why?” together has helped us think bigger picture. We get to look past the frustration of today and consider what tomorrow might be able to look like. And doing so helps us change our behavior today so that we can make that dream for tomorrow together.
Realizing that, made budgeting a whole lot less painful.
Try it sometime. Try sitting down with your spouse – or a trusted friend if you are single – and make a budget out. We use Every Dollar (it’s free and super easy to set up online and then to track spending on our phone with the free app). It’ll take a few months to really get the hang of it, but try it! Dream while you do it! What if you didn’t have those debt payments? Why save for an emergency? What could retirement look like if I save more? Why am I giving this amount – what if I could give more?
Yes, if we let them prompt our dreams, budgets are a funny thing.