How I conquered money woes, arguments, and holiday stress…mostly :)

So, as I detailed a couple posts ago, I’ve definitely been feeling stressed about a lot of stuff, mostly related to money.  And in my last private post, I ranted about Carl and my first “classic newlywed” argument–a doozie about chores that lasted two days.

But, a month later and I’m feeling much less stressed, thanks mainly in part to what Carl and I are calling “the 12 Fights of Christmas.”  In reality, we’ve been discussing a series of 15 questions our pastor has given us to discuss and be in agreement on before we walk down the aisle.  Most are simple, but important.  Others seem silly to me, and are bound to lead to arguments.  Here they are, copied for your reading enjoyment:

1) Have we discussed whether or not to have children, and if the answer is yes, who is going to be the primary care giver?

2) Do we have a clear idea of each other’s financial obligations and goals, and do our ideas about spending and saving mesh?

3) Have we discussed our expectations for how the household will be maintained, and are we in agreement on who will manage the chores?

4) Have we fully disclosed our health histories, both physical and mental?

5) Is my partner affectionate to the degree that I expect?

6) Can we comfortably and openly discuss our sexual needs, preferences and fears?

7) Will there be a television in the bedroom?

8) Do we truly listen to each other and fairly consider one another’s ideas and complaints?

9) Have we reached a clear understanding of each other’s spiritual beliefs and needs, and have we discussed when and how our children will be exposed to religious/moral education?

10) Do we like and respect each other’s friends?

11) Do we value and respect each other’s parents, and is either of us concerned about whether the parents will interfere with the relationship?

12) What does my family do that annoys you?

13) Are there some things that you and I are NOT prepared to give up in the marriage?

14) If one of us were to be offered a career opportunity in a location far from the other’s family, are we prepared to move?

15) Does each of us feel fully confident in the other’s commitment to the marriage and believe that the bond can survive whatever challenges we may face?

We’ve decided to discuss one per night, leading up to Christmas.  But when we encountered the second question, we realized something even more troubling–neither of us even knew how to talk about money.  How do we plan for our financial future when we don’t even know what Carl’s job will be, or what it will pay/benefits/job stability?  And how much are we supposed to put toward the 529s of those as-yet-undetermined-number of kids we discussed in Question One?

So, after a few days of fretting on it (and spurred on by very little interest in re-watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy with Carl on blu-ray) I got to researching.  Using solely my own income, which is at least fairly stable for now, I figured out a plan that maximizes 401k retirement savings (and my company match) and puts at least a little bit aside in a 529 for some college education.  Then, looking at my after-tax amount, changing my direct deposit election to have at least a little each month put into my general savings for an emergency fund/down payment on a new house/travel fund/etc.  Granted, the budget would be tight, but livable, even if we were only on my salary.  That way, when Carl finds a job, he can focus on paying off his student loan debt and set aside one additional bundle in an IRA that could be used for future college expenses, retirement, or whatever later on.

I also got another $200 or so off the cruise price by continuing to check the rate daily, haha.  So that helps 🙂  And we also finished all our holiday shopping, wrapping, and shipping, so that’s another load off.

4 more months.  Wow this is starting to go quickly!

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