“We now recognize we have to live within our means. We’ve gotten into some trouble when we didn’t,” said John. “We’ve been in serious debt, and it hurts. After you do that once or twice, you’re like, ‘I am not doing that again!’ It’s painful and it puts so much pressure on the marriage and family!”
The Vacation That Followed Them Home
Before they had children, Stasi says she and John took the opportunity to go on a vacation. “It cost $1,500, and we didn’t have a dime of it,” said Stasi. “We charged it—we charged the whole thing.” And they weren’t making much money at the time.
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“I don’t even want to add up how much we ended up paying for that $1,500 vacation, because it took years to pay it off! It followed us home and stuck around for years. And we just said to ourselves, ‘We don’t ever want to do that again—it’s too much!’”
Moving to a Cash-Only System
John said the problem with the whole card thing is that you’re disconnected with reality. With cash, you know exactly how much you have to spend, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
After getting into trouble with debt, they decided a cash-only system was the best route for their life and marriage. “We even dropped the debit card, because we weren’t living on a budget at the time and never knew who was withdrawing what. That’s when we went to the cash system,” John said.
Stasi grew up with her mom using the envelope system and she soon came to enjoy using cash herself. “You know it’s there instead of guessing and wishful thinking—worrying that it’s going to come back and haunt you later,” she said. “You have hope!”
“There’s nothing like reality,” added John. “When you’ve got 40 bucks, you know you’ve got 40 bucks. When it goes down to $3, you know you have $3. There’s just nothing like it.”
We all have that one thing that it’s difficult not to splurge on from time to time, right? Stasi’s love language is gifts, so it’s hard for her to not buy a gift for someone when she sees that perfect thing. “I really like finding little treasures for somebody l love,” she said.
For John, it’s lunch out. “It’s so much easier to run out to get a burrito than planning it out and making a sandwich ahead of time. That’s where I just want to throw caution to the wind.”
When you work together to make a plan and stick to it, you can each make sacrifices and work the things that are important to you into your budget.
Each person comes into marriage with views on money, which makes it hard for things not to be somewhat messy right out of the gate. “Life throws curveballs,” John said. But you can learn to work through them and win together.
The Truth of the Matter
“You’ve got to recognize that you will never change your spouse. Look, you married them!” John laughed. “Just settle it in your mind. It’s about your approach to life. When you look at it that way, mountains become molehills.
“We look at the things that used to cause huge tension between us and say, ‘Why was that ever a big deal?’”
Read more from John and Stasi Eldredge.
What accommodations could you make to get on the same page with your spouse financially and in all other areas of life?
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