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.
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?