The following is a guest post from Corey at 20’s Finances.
Friends are an important part of everybody’s life. They are there to support, challenge, and hang out with. It was just recently that I have been spending a lot of time with one of my close friends. It’s a friend that is close to both my wife and I and lives only blocks away from us, so we hang out frequently. The primary reason we have been hanging out is that I have been helping her lease a car. My friend doesn’t know a lot about cars or negotiating, so she begged for my help. I agreed, partially because that is what good friends do and partially because I wanted to test out my negotiation skills. Plus, she told me that I have to help since I own a personal finance blog. (Interestingly enough, the car salesman at the dealership thought I was an accountant, but I had to correct him that I was a PF blogger).
Through this long process of talking about the pros and cons of leasing, test driving multiple models, multiple visits to the dealerships in the area, and finding the right car at the right price, I have come to a huge conclusion. Actually, to be fair, it was my friend that realized it first, as she blurted out:
“You guys are married! There are two of you guys – I’m by myself. I only have one income stream.”
While her statement could be simplified to stating the obvious, there is a lot of truth in her statement. Being married does affect our finances, especially since both of us are working. I wanted to share how being married affects my finances. I’ll try to avoid repeating some of the obvious things.
1. Multiple Income Streams: Not only do we have more money together than we would if it were just me or just her, but we also have income diversification. This provides a lot of financial security for us. When my wife wanted to get into the non-profit field and was unable to find a job with a competitive salary, she was forced to take an Americorps position. If you don’t know anything about this, it means a 1 year program, basically working for less than minimum wage. This meant a huge strain on our budget, but we were able to get by because I was working as well. She has since thrived in the non-profit realm and it has allowed me to think seriously about being self-employed.
2. More Accountability: Another big change is that there is more accountability. I have several single friends and they often invite me out to eat or go to a movie. It’s not that they have no commitment to frugality, it’s just that they have different priorities. I know that when I spend money, I am spending OUR money. While I know that my wife is not going to get mad at me for spending a few bucks here and there, it does give me pause when I want to splurge on something significant. While I am typically the one that keeps track of our expenses, we do talk about where we spent our money each month and I wouldn’t dare try to hide something from her. (Side note: If you want to be really responsible with your finances, marry someone as frugal as you are. That way, when you do want to splurge, the other person will tell you know. This happens to me all the time.)
3. Spending Less on Entertainment: Another significant difference that I see is that we spend less on entertainment. While it is more expensive for us to go out to eat or see a movie (because there are two of us), we go out less frequently. It isn’t just the commitment to be more responsible with our money because of the accountability thing either. Instead, we enjoy hanging out with each other. This means that a walk around the neighborhood, hiking, tubing down a nearby river, and many other cheap activities are all fun to us. While I didn’t experience much life after graduation from college without being married, I know without any doubt that I would need to stay busier if I were single. This means that I would have higher entertainment costs if I were single – either that, or be one heck of a lonely guy.
While I didn’t get married for the financial benefits, I do enjoy them. It helps me stay responsible with my extra money and stay away from splurges. While the extra income can give you more flexibility, the care for one another ensures proper use of your funds.
Readers, do you have a spouse? Have you realized how it has changed your finances?