Last night Hubby and I had a serious talk about our financial situation. For the last three years (since I've become a SAHM) I have let him handle the money. It makes sense...he's better at budgeting, since we graduated from undergrad his career has always dealt with money, he's better at seeing the big picture, I'm horrible with numbers (I have a deep rooted fear about math and anything to do with it and to me finances=math), and I can't always see the big picture. Being happy at letting go of the responsibility of the home finances I have been seriously delinquent in knowing how we're spending our money. Hubby takes care of the big stuff and I buy what I need for us, the kids, and other family members (food, clothing, gifts, etc.).
The first year that I was home full-time really stressed out Hubs because we lost a big chunk of our income. I swear I could hear his heart palpitations from a mile away when the issue of money came up. The second year got better and he was less stressed, and he's much better now. However, because I didn't want to stress him out and he didn't want me to automatically consider going back to work (because neither of us wants that right now) we kind have silently agreed not to talk about money. Not a good idea!
Don't get me wrong. We are not in dire straits. We can afford our bills and fortunately because Hubby has been so diligent we definitely do not have any credit card debt. But a couple of things came up over the last two weeks that has had me wondering, where does our money really go? What can we truly afford?
In my opinion, we are probably living a little beyond our means and we could certainly tighten up. Last night we spent two hours looking at where our money goes. (Hubby likes to geek it up and had made a table with graphs and charts. Being a visual learner, it works for me.). We talked about where we could make changes and where we need to be more aware of how we're spending. This was a good exercise for us. It made us have an open discussion about our finances and what we can do together to help alleviate some of the stress.
I write about this because I have been struggling with how I think I contribute to the family. I think this is one way for me to once again be proactive in the family income by looking at what we can truly afford and where we need to take a break. At the same time I think it helps to alleviate some of the stress on Hubby. He feels the need to protect me and to make sure that I do all the things that I want to do, including staying home full-time with the kids. His protective instinct has inadvertently given me a false sense of security and kind of blind faith that we were better than fine financially. I love my husband for wanting to provide for me and not wanting me to worry. But I also need to feel that I contribute. It's important to me and how I view myself as a financially contributing member of this family.
I think finding areas where we can save will provide us more "income." I relish the challenge and will take it full-on. First up, less dining out. I think I can cut at least 10% of our dining expenses in the first month...let's see if I'm right!