I always tell my wife she is the secret weapon to our financial success.
When we got married 8 years ago, we were not only broke, but hopelessly naive about our dire financial situation. Thankfully, with the help of Dave Ramsey and his lessons on basic personal finance, we were able to pay off our student debt, save for the future and build a strong financial foundation for our family.
I couldn’t have done this without my wife.
1) Dual income, same level of expense
It may sound very unromantic, but one of the immediate benefit to our marriage was our ability to double our household income while maintaining a similar level of expense as when we were living separately. Unless you dramatically increase your lifestyle, you can maintain a fairly similar expense level married as when you were single.
Housing - The apartment that we moved in together cost about the same as the apartment that I was living in alone prior to getting married. I was living in a high cost of living area near UCLA and we decided to move to a lower cost of living area near my wife’s work. When you can go from having one income, one housing payment to two income, one housing payment, it makes a huge difference in your savings rate.
Transportation - Living close to my wife’s work not only cut down on gas cost but it also gave us opportunities to carpool few times during the week saving us additional money on transportation.
Food - We were able to purchase larger quantity of food that we would cook for the week; both at home and work. This was also the time when I ‘perfected’ my $2 lunch with much experimentation.
2) Willing to cohabitate with my parents
One of the amazing things about my wife is her ridiculous level of grit. Angela Duckworth discusses in her best selling book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, how grit is one of the best predictor of success in life. I really lucked out having met and married a woman who can teach me this everyday.
Not many people are willing to live with their parents as adults. Especially not if they had a choice and even worse if it was their in-laws! However, when my father approached us about the idea of cohabiting as a mutually beneficial arrangement for both our childcare and minimizing their overhead cost, my wife thankfully didn’t run out of the room. After much deliberation, we agreed and it’s been six years and counting.
There’s been many times when we doubted our decision and after a tough day of cohabiting, we’d even looked at other living options. However, despite all the ups and downs, my wife stuck through all of my parents peculiar nuances with patience, understanding and grit.
From a financial perspective, the cohabitation arrangement has allowed both of us to continue to work in our high demanding jobs and acquire a home that we couldn’t have afforded if my parents didn’t help with the equity - on the condition they came with the house :)
3) The best partner
When we think about our personal finances, we tend to fixate on and over emphasize the end goal. How much do I want to save? How much debt do I want to pay off? When can I retire?
We think and believe that when we reach that goal, we’ll be happy. But how many of us have reached the end only to realize that we aren’t as happy as we thought we’d be?
Life is a journey. Goals just help us to know which direction to move towards.
My wife is my secret weapon because the best part about our financial journey is the fact that I was able to do it with my best friend and life partner.
Accountability - When one of us would think about making a ridiculous purchase (mostly me), we would keep each other accountable on what our financial goals were. So… you are telling me you need the new $2,000 mac book pro to write better blog posts? I’ll let you think about that.
Motivation - In our many carpool rides together or late night walks around the neighborhood, we would talk about our financial future. What would it be like once the debt was paid off. Or what about once our home was paid off! Could one of us stay home with the kids? These discussions motivated and kept us on track towards our financial goals.
Enjoy the Process - The most enjoyable part of our financial journey has been the fact that I’ve been able to do it with my wife. Going to work, paying off debt and saving for the future is not easy. It can be stressful and emotionally draining. However, when you have the right partner, the challenge can be an enjoyable and a rewarding process!
Do you have a secret weapon in your financial journey? Who or what is it? Why is it your secret weapon?