Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Being Happy With Less

I have an account on Formspring.  Basically, it is a place where people can ask you questions.  Recently someone asked me what kind of financial advice I would give to a young married couple.  Here is my reply:

 The best financial advice I could give a young married couple is "be happy with less." Oftentimes, young couples want to have or be where someone who has been married 15 or 20 years is. But those couples have worked for years to be where they are and to have what they have! 

I remember when I first got married, we had a fold-up card table as our kitchen dining table and we used my old hope chest as a coffee table. And we were happy. Completely happy because they were OUR things and it was OUR place. Even if our first home was an apartment. 

Be happy with less.

 With that being said, be wise. Look at where your money is going. Chances are there is something you have a hard time giving up. Is it clothes, eating out, movies??? In order to get ahead as a couple, you need to sacrifice.

 Ask advice from parents or older couples who seem to be managing their money wisely. It may seem humbling, but honestly, most couples start out struggling and looking back, those are very tender-building years. I'm willing to bet that most parents would be more than happy to share what they've learned along the way to help you avoid some pitfalls! Just because it seems like they couldn't understand your struggles based on where they are now, doesn't mean that they've never been there. 

There is so much more that can be said on this topic. But if you follow the general rule of "be happy with less" - I think it will help you focus on where you are, and where you need to be. Hard work truly pays off in the long run. But it takes commitment and time. Everything you earn or get along the way means so much more and is so much more rewarding if you've worked hard to get there - on your own two feet.

I think the biggest struggle for young couples isn’t to simply “meet their basic needs” but it’s this inner struggle of trying to meet the basics and “then some.”  It is very hard to truly “sacrifice.” Image is everything nowadays. So everyone wants that car, that house, that screen TV, those clothes, and to be able to do the things they’ve always done.

Unless both people in a marriage relationship are working hard to meet those demands, they will certainly catch up with you quickly!

I’ve seen many times how young couples don’t have enough discipline in their own lives but then continually ask those around them for help. And this can turn into the cry of “wolf” if couples aren’t careful. For most families are more than happy to help someone who is truly down on their luck. But if they notice they are being used or taken for granted (or even notice a lack of restraint on your part) you can bet the help will be withdrawn.

There is nothing wrong with struggle.  It teaches you a lot. What feels good is knowing that you are making it on your own – without help from others, if possible. Even if you are extremely tight – at least you’re doing it.  Don’t let the “beast” of life – the machine that tells you you’re nobody without certain things dictate how you live.

You always need to look at the bigger picture. Look down the road. If you want to have a child in a few years, start saving now. If you want to have a home in a few years, start saving now. Don’t wait until the time arrives and then realize you weren’t very wise with your money in the meantime. Always be saving a little extra for the future. But yes, enjoy life too! Just don’t be reckless.

Starting out in life with a spouse is a great adventure. Have fun – even if that means only getting pizza every two months and getting your movies at the library so you can watch them for free. Everything can be fun if you have the right attitude.

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