One of the smartest financial decisions I ever made was marrying my wife. I’m a reasonably frugal guy, but she is great at it. I think it comes from living in Estonia under the Soviet Union for awhile. They didn’t have much, so everyone got used to getting by on very little. As a result she’s never been one to spend extravagantly.
When we got married I wasn’t making much money. It seemed like a lot at first because it was the first time I’d ever been on salary instead of wages, so thinking “lump-sum” made it sound so much greater than it really was. At any rate, when we got married things were a bit tight. We’d just barely squeaked our way into a home loan to buy my brother’s house, and it seemed like we were one major appliance failure away from financial ruin. Yet because we were frugal we got by, and even absorbed a few lesser financial problems.
In time, however, my income started rising. And that’s where my wife really helped out. My first instinct was to increase our budget to match our increased income. We could afford to live a little better now, I figured. But she was firm, insisting that we instead put that money into savings. I grudgingly went along with it at first, but after awhile I got a bit excited to see how much we were putting away and how we could endure minor setbacks more easily.
That became the pattern for the ten years we’ve been together. My income continued to rise, and as we were having kids, our expenses rose, too. But because of our frugality our expenses did not keep pace with my income. We were spending more money, but we were saving more, too.
Am I ever grateful for that savings now–and that frugality. I lost my job nine months ago, and though unemployment insurance helps, we still rely on our savings quite a bit. Our savings has been holding up amazingly well. That’s partly because we were saving so much, but it’s also because we know how to be frugal. The minute I knew my job was going away we went into “bare minimum” mode and were able to cut our budget by about a third. That really helps the savings go farther.
Eventually I will find work again, and then we’ll see the silver lining. Unemployment has helped us identify and eliminate some of the fat from our budget. When my income goes back up again it will be much easier to simply say “no” to letting our budget increase again rather than having to look for ways to cut back once we’ve gotten used to spending more. We can move forward with a much more efficient budget and with any luck rebuild our savings that much faster.
Of course first I have to find work, so our savings may continue to take a hit for awhile, but it’s comforting to know that I’ve got such a strong partner in my wife. It’s a big relief knowing that she’s working just as hard or harder to keep our expenses down right now. We’re under enough strain right now without having to clash over money as well.
Being married to someone I’m financially compatible with is a true blessing.