Lust, Sin & Money in Marriage (AKA Dave Ramsey and Andy Stanley on a Cargo Bike)

The next time you and your spouse fight over money, ask them one simple question:  "Honey, would you please feel insecure in our marriage and develop deep anxiety about our relationship so I can over spend our budget by $100 at Target? Yeah.  Ask them that.  Before you go shopping.  Or maybe try "Dear, could you spend money on that fancy car you want and not pay our mortgage on time so I can feel afraid that we will loose our house?"  It's a technique I keep to myself most of the time.  I learned it from Andy Stanley and you can read the story about it here.  

As I look over my daily life, I know I have it good.  We live under our financial means so while we don't go to Disney like everyone else, we also do not fight over credit cards and debt like everyone else.  But we do disagree about money, and that is usually my fault.  Our latest stressor wasn't repairing and adding an addition to the front porch, we had money saved for that.  It wasn't spending $3,500 on a new air conditioning system, we had an emergency fund set up for that(thanks to John's dedication & our Dave Ramsey education). What we have been discussing heatedly for weeks is an $1,800.00 bicycle. Whaaaat?  Yup.  And I've been a $50 used bike girl in the past.  

My current bike is so much nicer than anything I've had before and was a freebie from Whitney and Richard!  I buy used things, cheap things, and budgeted things.  But after learning about cargo bikes a few years ago and then my friend Joshua having a Yuba Mundo I can touch, ride and see:  I'm in love.  Or lust.  I'm a little obsessed.  I have been biking instead of using our car a lot during the past two years and I love it.  I'm empowered by the connections I make in the town we live in.  I enjoy using my body instead of fossil fuel to go places.  I appreciate that I cannot buy as many groceries or things I do not need from Target when I only have the bike trailer.  I love how using the bike instead of a car makes life move slower on purpose. After researching and experimenting with additions to my current bike, I really want this serious cargo bike.  I look at as almost replacing a car, so the cost doesn't seem as outrageous as it is.  Right?

Since we do not use credit, I know we need to save up for any big purchases.  We save monthly towards things like our new used car, the porch project, a new computer.  It takes time but having a goal helps.  Sometimes.  

We use Pear Budget to track our spending each month and we have wiggle room built into our spending plan.  As John and I discussed the cargo bike and our budget, I realized a painful truth:  If I hadn't overspent our budget every month for the past year, our finances would be in a place NOW where my husband might just buy the cargo bike for me.  Even though it is incredibly expensive.  

There is a reality where we might just have had resources to do the porch project and paint the garage and take care of the air-conditioning system and buy the cargo bike.  But we do not.  I am EXCEPTIONALLY grateful we could take care of the things we did take care of.  How blessed we are in our life. But.  I am reaping the sin of my over indulgences; $10 here, $30 dollars there...and I thought the little things didn't matter.  They do.  So when we choose to happy NOW, we may defer a later, bigger happy.  

I could tell John was upset about our budget.  He was upset with me for always going over our budget and not being too worried about it.  We were in our room as John got ready for work.  I'd been campaigning to buy the bike and our conversation grew more intense. I began praying and asking for God to help our conversation, to help change me.  I suddenly remembered the Andy Stanley talk I shared with you before about taking responsibility for ourselves in life. It taught me that when I choose to be Irresponsible, I am inadvertently asking someone else to Be Responsible for me.  Like John and me and finances.

As I realized I'd shot myself in the foot for getting the cargo bike, I looked at John and thought about how things looked from his perspective. I thought about what he must feel like as the sole breadwinner of our family. I asked him the question I mentioned earlier.   "John, would you please be tense and angry and worried because I spend too much money?  I know regardless of how much I actually spend, any spending makes you uncomfortable.  I'd like you to worry about our future, about paying for college for our daughters.  Darling, would you please be torn between loving me and being grateful I am fun and being disappointed in the way I poorly steward our money?"

John looked at me with love as my eyes filled with tears and he said, "This is why it is so great being married to you."

We are honest with each other.  We know our weaknesses and we talk a lot and this strengthens our marriage. We didn't, however, resolve our situation that day.  It has been an ongoing issue in our marriage and I ache over it because I cannot seem to stop myself from indulging in these little shiny things I want now.  I wanted to share this painful life lesson with each of you hoping you never have to ask your spouse, your friends, your family to take responsibility for you...You are strong enough and smart enough to do this yourself.  So am I. We were made to be responsible.  

p.s.  Thank you, John for bearing with me as I grow as a person and your wife.  Thank you for being responsible for me and to me.  I love you.  You are a gift to me and I will continue to work on myself so I continue to be a gift to you.  

Friends, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and stories about living within a budget in the comments.  Please share!

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