"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Finances {day 24}

If you ask marriage experts for reasons that couples divorce (or heck, just do a google search), finances is usually one of top causes. Whether it’s because of lack of money, or not seeing eye to eye on how to handle money, finances in general can just be extremely stressful in a marriage.

It’s definitely been a struggle in the financial department for us. I wasn’t expecting that. We both had a decent amount of savings going into our marriage, and we didn’t have any debt.

While I am technically a Registered Nurse, I haven’t been working in almost four years. We discerned that the best thing for our family was for me to stay home with our boys for the time being, and that may not always be the case, but for now it’s what works for us.

We even recently revisited the idea of me returning to work, but both Logan and I felt like the timing was off. I’ve tried doing little side gigs, here and there, which certainly helped in some seasons, but right now we’re not in a place where I can feasibly spend time on a home business without it causing undue stress on our marriage and family life.

Even though I knew God was calling me early on to be a stay-at-home mom and I’m so blessed to be able to do so, it hasn’t been easy. I thought that God would bless Logan with a really good job that provides for all our needs and more. (That hasn’t happened yet.) After all, if I’m able to stay home, my husband must make a heck of a lot of money, right?

Please excuse me while I giggle. A lot.

Up until four and a half years ago, Logan was still at the job he had had since high school, working for a landscaping company. He had a degree in film and started his own videography business since it was hard finding a job in his field.

Needless to say, he wasn’t making a lot of money. To make things worse, neither one of us had benefits with our jobs. Our individual health insurance policy left a lot to be desired, so we had just paid a heck of a lot of money to have a baby. Since I was technically high-risk, we had a lot of extra medical expenses, and we assumed that each pregnancy would be the same. I also ended up on bedrest with my oldest so that meant I couldn’t work.

Once our baby was born, I still worked part-time, because we desperately needed the extra money. At the time, Logan worked just Monday through Thursday because he worked longer days. So, I worked on Fridays while Logan stayed home with our baby. It worked well enough. Sometimes I worked other days that Logan was working too, and on those days I usually brought our baby to my cousin’s house. I hated leaving my baby even that much, but I did it just enough to make ends meet. We were very fortunate that my job was pretty flexible - I was able to work on the days that were best for us.

Thankfully, Logan was able to get another job before our baby turned a year old. It was just as a valet driver, and although they don’t make a whole lot anymore (people don’t tip the way they used to, unfortunately), it was more than his previous job. Plus, he finally received benefits! For the first time in our marriage, we actually had dental and vision insurance too. It was lovely.

Even though it’s been a few more years, we’re still pretty much in the same financial situation. That means we’ve had to make sacrifices when it comes to how we save and spend money. We’ve never had cable television, we don’t go on fancy vacations, we don’t buy new vehicles, and we don’t eat out much - and if we do, we usually skip appetizers, fancy drinks, and dessert. That’s just the beginning, and I know a lot of you understand and do the same.

In a way, I’m grateful for having to struggle a little bit, because I’ve gained some mad budgeting skills and have learned to be frugal. I know that just because Logan is the one earning the money, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have any responsibility. I’ve learned that I need to do my part - stick to the budget and cut costs where I can. Sometimes it means using cloth diapers, other times it means making all of our breakfasts from scratch instead of relying on cereal. (Because let’s be real, I’d much rather bake than add to the never-ending laundry.)

It’s easy to think that life would be easier if only we had more money. And I guess in some ways it would be - I could order pizza or takeout more often, like on those crazy days where I didn’t even get a moment to think about what we would eat for dinner. Or when one of our vehicles kept dying, it wouldn’t have been so stressful had we actually had enough money to just buy another vehicle.

But I know that having more money wouldn’t solve anything. In some ways, it could cause more problems. My parents always say that “the more money you make, the more you spend.” It’s so true - we live in a society that constantly wants more.

Living on a budget is a good reality check. Heck, it’s humbling. There have been so many times where I’m checking out at the store, counting the cash in my envelope labeled “grocery money”, saying a silent prayer that my total isn’t higher than the amount of money in my hand. I always have to add up my groceries in my head as I shop to make sure I don’t spend too much. Sometimes I can’t help but see people quickly swipe their credit card without a thought and wish I could just do the same.

Our financial situation has been hard at times on our marriage, but I can’t help but think it’s helped us too. We constantly have to be communicating about how much money we have and decide together what we want to spend that money on. We have to be on the same page to make our budget work.

It’s also helped us realize what we really care about in life - experiences and vacations spent together, with our kids, instead of the newest gadgets and vehicles.

So in a way - as with many other trials in marriage - I’ve learned to be grateful for our limited income, because it brings Logan and me together in a way I never expected.

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