Feeling Mature about Your Family’s Finances

The following is a staff writer post from Libby Balke. She’s an amazing writer, work-at-home mother of two, and has been married almost 8 years. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Libby or Crystal.

We’ve been watching a lot of college basketball lately in our household, and one commercial has caught my attention. It’s for a financial services company, and the crux of the ad is “When did you know?” (I’m intentionally not naming the company, number one because this isn’t a sponsored post, and number two because I don’t remember the business’s name.) They’re basically asking consumers when they knew they were responsible adults; my husband and I both agreed that we started feeling like grown-ups when we were able to successfully manage our family’s finances. But we disagree on something to: exactly when that successful money management began.

My Husband’s Case

My husband believes we’ve been successfully handling our family’s finances from very early on in our marriage. We tied the knot during our last few months of school (grad school for me, undergrad for him), but by our eight-month anniversary, we were both gainfully employed, working full-time jobs with benefits. His version of success begins at that point.

My Case

I, on the other hand, think our successful management of our family’s finances started much, much later. Sure, we both had jobs with benefits eight months into our marriage; we bought a house 15 months in; we bought our first brand new car 27 months after tying the knot, and another one just shy of our fourth wedding anniversary – we also had debt, piles and piles of it.

Is that responsible money management? While it may be the status quo for most Americans these days, it’s not exactly ideal.

To answer the ad’s question, “When did you know?”, for me it was the month before our five-year anniversary. That’s when my husband and I sat down, looked at our family budget, and realized that we were wasting great gobs of money on things we not only didn’t need, but in many cases didn’t even want. We were spending over $1,000 a month on child care, while I felt like I was letting someone else raise my child; we were shelling out $200 a month for someone to clean our house, even though I found scrubbing toilets therapeutic. Examining our budget meant cutting out some luxuries, rethinking our priorities, and making some serious changes – changes that put me on the path to leaving my full-time job (the one with all those benefits that made my husband feel like a real grown-up) in order to ultimately become a work-at-home mom.

Over the next six months, we put our family’s finances into real order. We paid down debts; we shopped around for everything from car insurance to Internet providers; we redoubled our efforts to build our nest egg. When it was all said and done, I’d left the rat race behind and was able to find work/life balance doing my job out of my home office.

And that’s when I started feeling like a responsible adult.

What about you? When did you start feeling like a real grown-up? Would your spouse or partner agree?

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7 Comments
  1. We have pretty much been responsible for ourselves since we first got married. We haven’t gotten into mountains of debt, and we manage our expenses. We do live below our means. I don’t actually think we are missing anything!
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..Is It Time To Move On?My Profile

  2. Is it weird to say some days I still don’t feel super mature about it? Even though we’re doing a pretty good job with our finances and are definitely ahead of “schedule” (whatever that means to most people) – I still feel like some of the stuff that we do with our finances and investing is too much fun to be considered responsible. We create weird hypothetical investment scenarios in our heads or spend time running around looking at the ugliest houses we can find. Yeah, I guess it’s mature and responsible, but it’s a ton of fun for us, too!
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..PoP Income Statement – March 2013My Profile

  3. No spouse here (yet). I’ve been financially responsible for myself since I turned 18, but don’t really feel like an adult even now (with money, yes, in life, no. That’s probably weird-I’m 30). I guess I’m just young at heart.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..The Fresh Direct Dinner ChallengeMy Profile

  4. I believe in a marriage each person comes in with their own money perspective. The trick is to merge it into one new perspective that suffices for the family.

  5. I think my husband and I were fairly mature in our financial management from about a year or so after we graduated from college. By that time we both had steady income and emergency savings and had started tithing and saving for retirement. I was still paying off my car, but I had made a very responsible choice and only had a small loan. Our financial management has become more complicated from that point as we got married and combined finances and started using short-term targeted savings accounts, but no more mature.

  6. Not sure when really but I just realized that we are handling our finances well when we are no longer feeling suffocated by debts and all of these expenses. We know how to budget our money well. But, it’s still a learning process. I guess you never really start learning because you always encounter something new.

  7. Can’t really say what point I though I was mature but I know whenever I first thought it I was wrong. We are always growing (well we should be) and when we look back on things we realize we should have done things differently and make changes going forward. The thing about being with someone is that what your idea of being responsible and mature could be completely different.
    T. @ MADD Finances recently posted..Editions TV Presents Accounts Where People Can Invest Money InMy Profile

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