Amber and Josh Joyce participated in a Financial Peace University course in preparation for marriage to learn to work together as a team when it comes to finances. Here's their story:
Why did you choose to take part in the FPU course?
JJ: Amber’s parents told us about FPU and we thought it sounded like a great way to learn more about our finances heading into marriage.
AJ: My parents and siblings, have each taken the class and they kept on talking about how much it has helped them get control of their finances. Since Josh and I were soon getting married and hadn’t talked much about our money, we thought it would be a great way to begin to talk about our money, together, and begin to establish a budget, together.
What was the financial state you were in as a single person?
JJ: In the three years prior to marriage I was living with some friends in a city apartment and trying to save money here and there. I didn't have any debt, and I didn't feel in over my head financially by any means, but I also didn't feel like I had a real plan for what I was doing with my money. When I had a really good month at work (I’m self-employed) and my bank account had more in it than usual, I would generally spend the extra money because it was there. During rougher months when my bank account wasn't so full, I would pinch my pennies and get by. I had no concept of a budget or cash flow plan that would allow for consistent saving, and I was letting my month to month financial situation control me, as opposed to telling my money where to go.
AJ: Before I was married I was living with my parents, not having to pay any rent or take care of many bills, so I would find myself spending money on a lot of things that I didn't necessarily need but that I wanted. I had a “budget”, that I would write every month, but I would find myself spending more money than I had budgeted and pulling money from savings. I felt comfortable because I knew that I could always pull from savings but, before I knew it, my savings started to dwindle and, because I wasn’t taking my budget seriously, I ended up with a lot more things than I needed in my life (thanks Target, haha).
AJ & JJ: Luckily, we were both debt-free and didn't bring loans into our marriage, but at the rate that both of us were currently going (with our money) we definitely would not have been able to keep our savings for long.
What’s one thing you learned about your spouse during the course that you didn’t know before?
JJ: I am the free spirit and she is the nerd! Have no idea what I'm talking about? I guess you’ll have to take the course to find out!
AJ: I learned that Josh may not spend a lot of money on one big purchase, like I tend to do, but that he tends to spend money in smaller amounts more often. Also, with him being a free spirit, like he mentioned above, I learned that he only has about 15 minutes of brain power to spend working on the monthly budget even though I could spend an hour on it and think it is fun! Because of that, I make sure that everything is organized and ready to go before we begin working on the important aspects of our budget.
How did FPU help you as a couple heading into marriage?
JJ: First off, it really helped us understand that it would better to wait to save up and buy a house we can afford rather than buy a house we couldn't afford within half a year of marriage. I think there are so many young couples that end up buying too early and getting in over their heads, and paying way more in interest because of it, or even foreclosing. FPU really gave us a solid grasp on the housing market, and although Dave doesn't often recommend borrowing money or spending money you don't have, he did go into depth about the right kinds of home loans, which helped us greatly! Secondly, the budget was the key piece of the entire course that we started applying immediately and seeing positive results from.
AJ: The one main word that comes to my head when I think of this question is budgeting! Neither of us had a good grasp on budgeting or telling our money where to go before taking FPU. But after taking the class together and learning all about the right way to budget, we were able to establish better practices of what we would spend money on and where we would spend our money. After taking the class, we began to get more creative with date nights and, instead of going out to eat every week, we would cook together at one of our houses some weeks. We saved money even before getting married that, in the future, we will be using for our house. Instead of spending money because we had it, we began to look at the bigger picture and how saving money could help us reach our long term goals even sooner.
How does FPU continue to help you now that you’re married? What changed?
JJ: The budget is still how we make our everyday spending decisions! It has totally changed our outlook on how we handle our money. Dave says so much inspirational stuff throughout the course about thinking long-term and I think some of that is what allows me to stick to the budget even when I might want to spend frivolously.
AJ: Now that we are married the budget really does continue to help us keep track of where all of our money is going. With both of our money now being in the same account, the budget also helps us to keep each other accountable with what each of us is spending our money on. I no longer am able to go to Target and spend $100 on random things I do not need, without feeling guilty about it. We talk about our long term goals (a dog, a house, kids, etc.) almost daily so that we keep the mindset of saving rather than spending money on things we do not necessarily need. We also have found ourselves going out to eat a lot less since getting married.
The budget is still how we make our everyday spending decisions!
AJ & JJ: One thing that has changed since getting married is that we made a rule if we ever are spending over $50.00 on something we need to confer with the other person before buying it. That has helped us to keep each other accountable as well as keep our relationship very open and honest when it comes to our finances. And we are learning if we can continue to be open and honest with our finances, our relationship will really benefit from it because we will have nothing to hide.
What’s one or two takeaways you got from the course?
AJ & JJ: That when we tell our money where it should go we can begin to save more, which in turn helps us to obtain our long term goals more quickly. Also, when we are open and honest with each other about what we are spending we feel more connected as a couple and more confident that we are making the right choices financially.
What would you say to other engaged or newly married couples? Is the course something you’d recommend and why?
JJ: Take the course! It's never too late to get your finances under control. Whether you’re thousands of dollars in debt or working from a clean slate, FPU gives you the tools to start managing your money and your life in a more beneficial and disciplined way.
AJ: Yes, yes, yes!!! This is something I would 100% recommend to all couples, including those that are engaged or newly married. It has truly opened our eyes to see finances in a healthy, non-scary way and the concepts Dave teachings are ones that you can bring with you into every season of life. Whether you are trying to get out of debt, save for a house, or even if you just want to know how to budget, these practices will help you have a more open and successful marriage financially.
Sign up for Dave Ramsey's 9-week class, Financial Peace University, happening on Monday nights this Spring. Childcare is available! Registration and payment for the class materials is required.