3 Ways to Be Financially Responsible In Your Marriage

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? – Luke 16:11

Financially_Responsible
Photo by Derek Couts Photography

Before the vows are said and the rings are exchanged, many couples like to prepare for the transition from dating to married life by discussing a variety of topics.

Where do we want to live? How many kids do we want to have? What church will we attend? What lifelong goals do we want to achieve?

Financial goals and expectations are topics that need to be discussed as well! Money is a large component of marriage, whether we like it or not, that has the ability to help or harm it. I’m not saying that money is everything, but when we steward our finances with intentionality and consistency, we add a level of comfort and convenience to our marriages that makes them more fun and enjoyable for both you and your spouse!

Here are a few things to help you do just that:

1. Keep a budget
I’ve hit on this topic before in a previous post, but it’s so important and I think bringing it up again is worthwhile. Setting a budget and sticking to it is how you and your spouse are going to reach your financial goals later on down the road. It might not be very fun when you first get into it, but you will thank yourself later for paying off debts and not overspending.

Being financially responsible by keeping a budget is just a better way to live. You will be able to do more things, go more places, and when unexpected events come your way, like an emergency room visit, you won’t be sent into a panic wondering whether or not you can foot the bill.

2. Make financial decisions together
Daniel and I have only lived in our apartment for a few months and we are just starting out. There are a few things that we’d like to have for our home, but we know that it’s not in our best financial interest to purchase these things just yet. However, there are several big ticket items I’ve had my eye on for a while now that I just know would make our little abode more homey and inviting. How easy would it be for me to hop on Wayfair and buy all the fancy rugs I’ve been ogling for months or go to Home Goods and buy everything in the store? Super easy!! But I have a feeling that my husband wouldn’t be very pleased with me if he were to check our bank account at the end of the day and discover that I had spent hundreds of dollars without consulting him first. So, we make our financial decisions together, no matter how big or small they are.

It might seem a bit trivial, but even when I plan on buying something small for our apartment, like a lamp or a pillow, or go searching for a new work outfit, I always let Daniel know what I intend to buy and how much I expect it to cost so that it doesn’t come as a surprise to him when he checks our account.

Communicating your purchases to your spouse can prevent a lot of arguments and ensures that you are both aware of your current financial status.

3. Have a joint bank account
I know this can be a wishy washy subject for some couples, but hear me out on this. When we commit to spending the rest of our lives with someone, why would we exclude our finances from that commitment? That’s like saying, “I promise to spend the rest of my life with you, through sickness and in health, till death do us apart … buuuuut I’m gonna need to keep my bank account separate from yours, ok?” It doesn’t work that way!

Having separate bank accounts can potentially lead to bad spending habits and a point of contention between you and your spouse.

Having separate bank accounts can potentially lead to bad spending habits and a point of contention between you and your spouse.

Let me clear this up a bit: If you and your spouse share a bank account, your husband or wife has the ability to check the account whenever they wish. They can see every penny coming in and going out of the account. This holds each of you accountable. This is good!

On the flip side, if you and your spouse have separate accounts, you can spend as much money as you want without having to disclose that information to anyone other than yourself. So when you know you’ve spent more money than you should have and you don’t want your spouse to know, you might find yourself lying about how much you’ve actually spent. When lies and deceit begin to enter our marriages, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at first, we are setting ourselves up for a long and bumpy road that can easily be avoided.

When lies and deceit begin to enter our marriages, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at first, we are setting ourselves up for a long and bumpy road that can easily been avoided.

By keeping a budget, making financial decisions together and having a joint bank account, you and your spouse will set yourselves up for financial and marital success, and be able to fully enjoy the fruits of your labor “as long as you both shall live”!

3 Ways To Survive Your First Job After College

First_Job_Graphic

When I was about to graduate college and searching for full time employment, a lot of people said to me, “Don’t snatch up the first job that comes your way!”.

I repeated these words over and over in my head and told myself, promised myself, that I would follow this advice.

But after I filled out a couple applications, talked my way through some phone interviews and was offered a job at a hotel a few weeks later, it was as if I had never heard that advice in the first place.

You see, after making nearly nothing at all in college, I jumped at the first job I was offered because it sounded like a million dollar deal at the time! Mind you, my starting salary wasn’t much, but for a fresh-outta-college gal like myself, it was enough to reel me in.

My start date was a week and a half after graduation and although I wished I had more of a summer break before I started working, I was ready to make some money. Donned in my new work clothes with my lunch box in hand, I headed out the door to sit in traffic alongside thousands of other working adults.

It didn’t take me long to realize what a big fat mistake I had made.

And I don’t say that because I didn’t want to work or that I was a lazy college grad.

Have you ever had a job that you knew you just weren’t cut out for? This was the exact thought that entered my mind after two short weeks at my new job.

Every day I dreaded going in and I practically sprinted out the door when my shift was over. I dealt with grumpy guests during my 10+ hour days which only added to my misery. Thankfully, I was transferred to another hotel once the summer came to a close, and my situation drastically improved.

But the good thing about going through tough times is that you come out on the other side having learned something. And maybe that something learned can help out someone else in the long run. Although I was very unhappy at my first job after college, I learned a few ways to cope with my less than idyllic situation that I hope you can put to use if you ever find yourself in similar shoes.

1. Find a mentor(s)
My parents were and are my best mentors. They didn’t let me take the easy way out by quitting my job, but they did help me see the good side of things. For example, they kept reminding me that I was able to save up money so that Daniel and I would have a nice little cushion once we got married. And my mom would always tell me, “At least you know now what you don’t want to do, which is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do!”. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do. Keep this in mind when you are searching for a new job and steer clear of positions that are similar to the one you are trying to get out of.

Along with my parents, a few supervisors at the hotel I was transferred to after the summer took me under their wing. They made it fun to come to work, they taught me new things every day, and they listened to me when I needed to rant. Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

Sometimes all it takes to feel valued and appreciated at your job is for someone to listen to what you have to say.

2. Be a positivity sponge 
Most days at my job, the only thing that kept me going was listening to the Christian radio station, K-Love, during my morning and afternoon commutes. If it weren’t for those songs pouring out encouragement through the speakers and lifting my spirits before and after work, I wouldn’t have had the mental strength to go in each day. We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

We can’t control what will happen to us at work, but we can control what we fill our minds with outside of it.

2. Have an end date in mind 
I knew I didn’t want to be at this job for much longer, but I didn’t want to quit either. The only way I could keep going was to dangle a carrot in front my nose. I told myself, “Just make it through the summer”. So I did. Then I told myself, “Just make it until the end of the year”. So I did that too. And around this time, Daniel told me that he had been offered a job back in Knoxville. With his new job lined up and our wedding right around the corner, I knew I only had 2-3 months left at my job. I was ecstatic! Finally, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. With an end date in sight, my outlook completely shifted.

Now, I don’t encourage you to up and quit your job without seriously thinking it through and consulting with your family and mentors first, but the truth of the matter is, if you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation. Whether that’s applying for five new jobs every week or making a deal with yourself to only stay put at your current job for one year and then move on, having an end date in mind with a plan to meet it will keep you motivated and determined to reach your goal.

If you aren’t happy at your job, nothing is going to change if you don’t have a plan in place to improve your situation.

With guidance from your mentors, staying focused on the positive, and reminding yourself that this season of life won’t last forever, I am confident that you will not only survive your first job after college, but that you will set yourself up for success for your next job as well!

8 Pearls Of Wedding Wisdom For The Next Bride In Line

*All photos by Derek Couts Photography

Daniel and I loved and cherished every second of our wedding day and nearly five months later, we still talk about how much fun we had celebrating our marriage with our favorite people in the world. There were several things we did on our wedding day that I know will make your own wedding experience so much more enjoyable!

1. Pray a special verse over your wedding and marriage
As a bride, you think of all the things that can go “wrong” on your wedding day. It’s just what we girls do. What if it downpours at your outdoor wedding? Or red wine accidentally gets spilled on your dress? What if nobody dances during the reception? Or an unwanted guest shows up as a plus-one?

Early on in the wedding planning process, my mom told me of a verse that she had been praying over our wedding and marriage; Ephesians 3:20. This verse says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” She prayed this prayer often and told me not to stress about the things that were out of our hands. All we could do was plan and prepare the best we could and leave the rest up to Him. This verse brought me so much peace during the time of my wedding.

When we accept that we cannot control every obstacle that will come our way on our wedding day, but trust in God’s ability to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine, we allow ourselves to be fully present on our wedding day, enjoying each moment rather than being rattled with fear and worry of everything that could go wrong. HR_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-2042. Sit down and eat dinner with your husband
Before our wedding, I wanted to know what past brides wished they had or had not done on their wedding day. Something that I kept hearing over and over was that the bride wished she would have sat down and eaten dinner with her new husband. So, I made a point to do just that. At our reception, we had our own little table set aside for us by the fireplace where we got to enjoy 15 minutes of just being together and taking in all that was happening around us. We got to eat our delicious dinner and talked about how seamlessly everything came together. It is one of my most favorite memories of our wedding.SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-293SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-2943. Cut a rug
When your guests see you having a good time, it makes them want to join in on the fun! We came up with a first dance that we had practiced for months before our wedding and when our DJ announced us during our grand entrance, we went right into it. We had the best time showing off our silly moves and I felt like it set a fun atmosphere for the rest of the evening.SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-295.jpgSM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-297SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-303SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-3094. Don’t go crazy with the decorations. Create an inviting atmosphere instead.
You might have the most beautiful decorations, but if the atmosphere is stiff and nobody is on the dance floor, that’s probably what people are going to remember about your wedding when they think back on it years down the road. However, if you create a welcoming and fun atmosphere, your guests are going to stick around until your send off.

I wanted our wedding to feel warm, cozy and inviting for our guests, and I think we accomplished that without going overboard on the decorations. We had a fire lit during our ceremony and reception (instant coziness), and lots of candles strewn about. You can buy candles in bulk for pretty cheap. We also had good music playing the whole night, thanks to our awesome DJ, which set the tone for the evening and had people on the dance floor the entire night.

So when you’re obsessing over the nitty gritty details of your decorations, remember that your guests would probably much rather have a fun time dancing the night away at your wedding than have pretty centerpieces to stare at for a few hours. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-361SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-372SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-365SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-387SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-403SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-404SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-452SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-412SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-410SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-4205. Make it personal
Most of the decorations at our wedding were things we already had at home, like my typewriter, door wreaths, and things for our UT pom pom send off. Or they were things that people had made for us, like the wooden cross that sat on top of the mantle that my best friend handmade for me, and an antique door that my mom had made for us that served as the backdrop for our family dessert table. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-125SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-122SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-128SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-192SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-1296. Involve your family and friends 
My mom made our wedding cake from scratch and used my grandma and grandpa’s cake topper. She also did the majority of the decorations by herself, helped me address wedding invitations, and so much more. Women on both sides of our family made desserts for our family dessert table, Daniel’s uncle married us, my aunt cross stitched our ring bearer pillow, my second cousins were our flower girls and Daniel’s were our ring bearers. One of my bridesmaids sang a song and played guitar while we took communion and lit our unity candle, and ALL of my bridesmaids were such a huge help with getting our trail mix bags stuffed and setting up the day before. Your wedding will be much more special when you involve the ones you love the most. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-248SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-251SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-3SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-4SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-130SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-131SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-210SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-216HR_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-105SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-107SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-203SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-252SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-1337. Get most of your photos out of the way before the ceremony 
We had a wonderful photographer, Derek Couts, who is also our close friend! He did an amazing job taking our family photos and bride and groom photos before the ceremony so we could eat dinner, visit with our guests, and dance for the rest of the night! After all, we had been planning this day for over a year, so why not enjoy it?! He was also fantastic at taking natural photos of us throughout the night and not pulling us away from the fun to get forced, posed shots. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-114SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-121SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-100

 

SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-289SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-291SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-2928. Visit with your guests, but don’t feel bad if you can’t make it to everyone 
Yes, you should and need to visit with your wedding guests. They took time our of their schedule to come celebrate with you, so you should thank them for that! However, don’t feel bad if you can’t (and chances are, you won’t have the time to) visit with every single person there. They know that you have a lot going on and they want you to enjoy your own wedding! But be sure to thank them for coming after the wedding, whether that’s by writing them a thank you note or making a phone call. SM_Jill_and_Daniel_Wedding-312