When Jason and I were dating and engaged, he worried that our financial backgrounds may have problems meshing. His father was a rancher, my father was an attorney. In his mind, I came from a rich family and he did not. He worried about what it would mean to marry what he considered a rich girl. Truth is, I didn’t come from a rich family. We were comfortably middle-class. But it’s true that I never worried about family finances growing up and apparently he did.
So Jason and I married and I like to believe that he was pleasantly surprised at how conservative I was with my spending habits. My philosophy on money is this: I have never worried about finances, so why would I want to put myself or my family in a situation where I have to start worrying. No possession on earth is better than a good nights sleep; therefore, I never want to lose sleep over money issues. So, yes, I try to be careful.
The one financial decision we have always agreed on is that we would NEVER put anything on a credit card that we couldn’t pay off that month. So far, that’s worked pretty well for us.
Notwithstanding, my self-proclaimed “carefulness” with spending, there have been incidents in our marriage where I have accused my husband of being cheap. Here is one example:
When I was pregnant with our oldest child, Jason and I went on a campout with our church group. Jason had a few basic camping supplies from his Boy Scout days; so, with one small exception, we were fine for one night in the mountains. That exception was that we didn’t have any camping pads on which to sleep. So as we were loading up the old Jeep Wagoneer I suggested we stop by Wal-Mart on our way to the mountains where I had recently seen camping pads for as little as $5.00. At this suggestion, Jason basically accused me of being high maintenance and insisted that camping pads were an extravagant luxury. Needless to say, his pregnant wife spent a pretty miserable night on the hard, cold ground.
If you think that this is the first time I have brought this up since the initial incident, you think way too highly of me. I bring it up all the time. I think we can all agree, that on that particular day, Jason was CHEAP!
Fast forward to 2004. We had been living in our second home but felt that we needed something a bit bigger for our growing family. So we started the search for a new home. We had a price range in mind and I had seen a number of homes that I felt we could afford, though a new home would stretch us more than we had been stretched previously. I had basically decided on a home that was at the higher end of our price range. I knew that Jason was a little uncomfortable with the cost of the house, so I agreed to look at a home that he had found that was well below the cost of the homes I had been looking at; in fact, it was about half the cost of the house I had chosen. When Jason and I went through the less expensive home, we both felt that this was our home and we immediately put an offer on it. We moved into our current home six years ago this month and it has been a great home.
When we were doing the financing for our home, Jason felt that we should take out a loan with a five-year arm. Mortgage companies were really pushing arm loans back in 2004 but we knew that they were a bit controversial. When I expressed some concern about the loan with Jason he told me not to worry, that he would have the house paid off before the five-year arm expired. I trusted him. Well, he didn’t pay off our mortgage in five years. Instead, he paid it off in three and a half years.
So, my husband may be cheap, but here’s the truth. His thriftiness has put us in a position where we are able to go into our new life as poor government employees with no debt. We’ll be able to keep our home in Utah without worrying about a house payment while we’re overseas. We’re not rich, but we have enough of a nest egg to pay for our kids college, church missions and weddings. I’ll never drive a Mercedes, but we’ll never have a car payment either. Had the family finances been left up to me for the 17 years of our marriage, we would probably have multiple car payments and a big mortgage.
So, I pose the question: Is my husband wise, or just cheap? Well, today one of our church leaders counselled us to pay off mortgages as fast as possible, and my heart swelled with gratitude for my cheap husband. Maybe wisdom and cheapness can co-exist in one person.