I met sweet Maison at the Creative at Heart Conference last November! I am so excited to have her and her husband Caleb on the blog today share more info about what they have learned in their first year of marriage about finances. It may not be the most glamorous thing to talk about, but knowing, and having a clear understanding of your finances is such an important piece to having a successful marriage.
Hey guys! We are Caleb & Maison Engel — the husband and wife team behind Maison Meredith Photography. We have been married since August 23, 2014 and are currently living in Madison, Wisconsin where we met each other in college (go Bucky!!). We love anything involving dogs, Chipotle, photography, and serving other couples who are preparing for marriage or are currently married! When we think back to our first year of marriage, it’s obvious to us that we learned so many beautiful and valuable lessons that year. However, the one thing that we think can help set couples up for the most success in growing closer to each other that first year of marriage is understanding finances — yes, finances! And specifically, understanding how each of you VIEW finances and how you both want your finances to work in your marriage.
Today we’re going to share the three biggest financial lessons we learned our first year of marriage. These lessons helped us to create a plan that allows us to pursue our financial goals as a couple. Let’s do it!
Numbers Don’t Lie
The one thing we love about finances (and numbers in general) is that they don’t lie. When we got married, we sat down with the numbers (aka our bank accounts and the money we were each bringing to the table). We didn’t have a lot of it and we also had a little bit of debt. When we looked at this reality as newlyweds, we had two choices: 1. Be unhappy with our situation, complain about it, and allow it to define us or 2. Accept our reality and allow it to motivate us to make changes. We opted for option number two, choosing a culture of honesty with one another around our finances. We shared about our experiences with money growing up, our dreams for our future, and our current reality. We established core values around our finances that, no matter how much or little we had, we could always hold fast to.
Create a Budget
Caleb has always been a man with a budget and so naturally, he brought one into the marriage (Maison on the other hand, not so much). However, something Caleb’s budget lacked was purpose and without purpose, the budget always just seemed to be numbers on a page. Now that we knew our goals (after honestly discussing those numbers and our reality!), we could get excited about sitting down with our numbers and finding a specific place for EVERY dollar. We’ve had a lot of fun using the free budgeting app “Mint.” Mint allows you to set specific categories for your budget and automatically tracks your credit and debit card transactions (it even predicts what category transactions fall under and gets smarter as you use it!!). Without having something to hold you both accountable, it’s easy to spend money without purpose.
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Know your Role
Coming into our marriage, Caleb was a saver and Maison was a spender. It’s important, especially as a saver, to note that neither is good and neither is bad — in moderation. After a few confrontations with these differing viewpoints, we were able to recognize a pattern. Caleb would find himself getting mad any time Maison wanted to spend money and Maison would feel hurt that Caleb wasn’t valuing her opinion regarding OUR finances. By recognizing this pattern, we were able to step outside of it and help each other see our unhealthy relationship with money and instead create a healthy financial situation that serves our MARRIAGE — not just Maison or Caleb.
We hope these financial lessons we learned early in our marriage can benefit or encourage you regardless of your financial or relational situation! We want you to know that we aren’t perfect and make financial mistakes all the time, but by choosing to show up and be honest, no matter how painful, we are able to show each other that we value our MARRIAGE over money. Thanks for hanging with us!