Ever wonder what life will be like when you get married? A house, two cars, swimming pool, maybe a dog, possibly kids later on? Reality Check! All that stuff is great, but for most people, it doesn’t just appear the moment you get say ‘I do’. I’m sure you are probably saying “yea I knew that”, but in today’s day and age, although you may know a lot about marriage, you don’t necessarily apply such knowledge when it comes to money. In terms of money, my life prior to getting married consisted of three things: school, food and shopping for things like clothes, makeup, and other leisurely activities.
School was obviously a necessity—something that had to be paid for, no matter what. Food, another necessity, which was something I wish I had regulated more, and set a real budget towards. While in college, especially, it was a lot easier to simply swipe my debit or credit card and buy pre-made food, rather than prepare a meal, which is a lot cheaper.
Is that new iPhone really necessary?
I’m a girly-girl at heart, so passing by a nice pair of shoes displayed beautifully at a storefront window makes me weak in the knees. Before tying the knot, I didn’t think twice about dropping a couple hundred dollars on clothing and shoes. My way of thinking then was this “I am single, I can spend on whatever I want, I’m not tied down to anybody. I won’t have this luxury when I get married, right?” WRONG! As much as that was true at the time, had I only spent on the necessities even as a single person, I would be in much better financial shape now. Thankfully, my husband and I are doing well in regards to money, but, let’s just say I would have a lot more numbers in my bank account had I been a little bit smarter about my spending when I was single! Many think this is only a women’s issue; this goes for both men and women. Men, I know you like your video games, but again, buy only what is a necessity! Girls, I know TV wants you to believe you NEED those expensive name brands; you may think it’s a necessity, but the word ‘necessity’ is the difference in wanting something that you already have, and getting something that you need, but don’t have (food, shelter, and sometimes clothing). Let’s just say, if you’ll die without it, it’s a need. Louboutin shoes—not a necessity. Coach purse—not a necessity. Latest version of an iPhone when you’re current iPhone works just fine—not a necessity!
The only thing I ever did right in my shopping was occasionally buying things for the future. The key is investing and saving. I wish I had been as wise my brother or my brother in-law. Before my brother got married I remember seeing him work hard and save almost every penny. Once he got married, him and his wife rented for a little while (still saving and spending only on necessities), which allowed them to invest in a house of their own pretty quickly. My brother-in-law bought a house before getting married! Pretty remarkable. Saving can greatly benefit you in your single life, and will only make life easier when you get married.
5 things to remember
So, all that being said, what do I wish I would have known before I got married? Here’s just the beginning…
1. Never buy things on impulse
This can be incredibly difficult, what with all the enticing, shiny, things that seem to always be calling your name. But be strong. Ask yourself, “do I really NEED this?”, if the answer is no…walk away!
2. Try your best not to get married with debt
The last debt I had before marriage was tuition (I paid it off right away in order to not have any more debt).
3. Do not get into debt for a wedding!
Personally my husband and saved up and paid for our wedding. We knew it was just going to be one day, and it would not be worth it to get into debt over! (Ladies, I know it may seem hard to understand this when you want a lavish occasion, but you can do that by saving…so get started…step away from the shoes!)
4. When single, don’t just consider your needs in the present, consider your future spouse.
You wouldn’t want to bring loads of unnecessary (ie. retail) debt, and hardly any savings into your marriage, especially if your spouse was responsible with his/her money. It’s just not fair. Do your best to be responsible for your future partner.
5. Save, SAVE, SAVE!
Spend only on the necessities…put the rest away. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Remember, be a good steward of your money. You control your finances, don’t let your finances control you. Hopefully these tips help you in the present, and to plan for the future.
Andrea Patricia “Patty” Alexandre has been married since July 31,2010. She has worked in various facets of ministry for 12 years, coming from a family of Pastors and leaders. Patty received a B.A. in Religious Studies with a Minor in Leadership from the Georgia School of Leadership and Ministry in Griffin, Georgia. She has a passion for people, social justice, ministry, coffee and art.