Taking Control of Couple Finances: 6 Months Later

mains couple

Less than a year ago, I discussed a great change in my couple dynamic: The Day I Took Control Over Our Couple Finances. At the time, I was 8 months pregnant. By the time I was ready to truly apply this change, baby was born and a couple months old. Still, it was a shock.

I didn’t take my responsibilities in our finances before. My husband did his best, but didn’t know what his best was anymore. When I started analyzing our situation, we had a considerable debt on a credit card, our city taxes were late and we were not making enough money to cover our expenses. Honestly, I didn’t expect such a challenge – read I cried my despair.

Where to Start?

I started making the list of our monthly expenses. I wanted to have a clear idea of what was going out. I already knew not enough money was coming in to cover the list… But we had to go through the pain in order to realize it was more than time to reverse.

Reviewing contracts: insurance, phone, Internet, TV, etc.

The morning after, I started my phone calls. I review all our contracts to see if savings were possible. I was happy to discover many of them were actually real good deals. At least one thing we succeeded at! 😉 I was also a little discouraged by the lack of savings. Still, I managed to save us a thousand dollars a year doing it. There might be more to come as I have to wait for our home insurance that is already covered until spring.

What about Refinancing?

With our credit card debt, it could have been a good option to refinance our home and eliminate a lot of interests. Unfortunately and although we met with our bank representative, it was not a possibility for us as we refinanced two years ago.

Creating a Tight Weekly Budget

My husband has a paycheck every week. Mine is biweekly. We used to work on a monthly basis. What I realized analyzing our habits is that if we don’t plan where we’re going to put our money as soon as we get it, we use it for unnecessary expenses. Our main bad financial habits were Friday night’s restaurants, daily coffees and – I’m 100% guilty – clothes for the kids.

Not much to worry about you might think. Well, these “little” things added up to around $100 a week! Over five thousand a year! It was insane. Five thousand a year is what we pay in city and school taxes – yes, welcome to magnificent province of Quebec! These same taxes that was late…

No need to say we cut on these expenses right away. That is also why I introduced a tight weekly budget. My husband hated it at first. Then, when he realized how easier it was, he started loving it!! 😉

So how does our weekly budget work? Basically, I plan everything ahead: from home loan payments to birthday gifts and seasoning expenses. We have almost nothing left every week, which is not a good feeling for us, I must admit. However, we don’t necessarily need more left as everything expected is covered. Automate payments also help not forgetting something.

The Unpredictable

The most difficult in our situation right now is to predict the unpredictable. It is presently impossible for us to have an emergency fund. My biggest priority is getting rid of our credit card debt. Thing is, among other little emergencies, we had two big car repairs to pay for in 6 months. Maybe someone who knows mechanics could have predicted it, but we didn’t. Trust me, if you can put money in an emergency fund, do it! 😉

Other Sources of Money

Because I expected more savings with reviewing contracts, I decided to search for other sources of money. Believe it or not, we had $350 spare change in a jar. We also put many things for sale, including our second car, my wedding dress and golf clubs. Car has been sold, which meant over $4,000 back in our pockets if we included insurance and other expenses made in a year.

Where to Truly Save?

The one place where we are saving a lot and that I didn’t see coming is on groceries and baby products. I changed my grocery store, added some coupons – I’m far from being a couponing freak, let’s clear that! – And made a weekly menu. Every dinner is planned and my grocery list is made out of this menu.

We used to spend $175-200 a week for groceries. We are now paying around $100-150 for the four of us (including a baby)! Not to mention that I never wonder what to prepare for dinner and that I tried a lot of new tasty recipes.

What I am proud of is the fact we can continue to eat quality meat, bought on an organic farm while having a lower food budget. It was an important choice for me and I’m glad we managed to find a way to keep that.

What About Investing?

Retiring investments is one of the top financial priorities for my husband. I therefore had to find a way to make some despite a challenging financial year. I then remembered we had a cashback credit card. We never used our “cashback”. Surprise! It will cover our investments for this year and give us more time to handle our debt and plan better for next year.

What Is To Come?

My solutions are quite simple and not perfect. I will not revolutionize personal finance this year 😉 We will stick to this plan for a while because I believe a couple months more will bring greater measures. Although our couple finances are not at the state we want them to be yet, I’m encouraged by the results we got so far.

I learned a lifetime lesson though. I will never lack on my financial responsibilities again. I will not put such pressure on my husband anymore. We agreed on working as a team from now on. I might handle our financial plan, but we discuss each big decision.


Image credit via Pinterest

About the Author