4 Financially Smart Tips for Newlyweds

LARABETH MILLER

 

I am so very proud of my husband. 

We got married in his second year of medical school, had a baby, moved to another town and held ourselves together while he worked 80 hour work weeks and studied for 9-hour exams. Then we spent $10k on interviews before he landed a fantastic job. My husband then graduated from medical school and carried his little family to another state to begin a new chapter. 

 Now we are proudly Dr. and Mrs. Miller, ready to welcome our second baby. Oh, and we have six figures worth of debt to pay off. 

Truly, I’m laughing--because otherwise, I’d cry. And it might not seem like I’m very well-equipped to be writing about being smart with money. Taking on as much debt as we have is certainly a risk and stressor to any marriage. 

But with any kind of monetary undertaking, even just creating a family, it is essential to learn how to be financially literate. 

Money will always present itself as a major pressure in a marriage, yet if both you and your spouse are knowledgeable, it becomes a team effort instead of a fight. The virtues of prudence and wisdom are key here, in addition to faith in God’s providence.

Here, a few of the ways my husband and I have started our financial journey. 

Identify your spending personalities.

 This is an important topic to discuss before you get married. Consider: what are your spending habits like? Are you high maintenance? Do you budget your life already? What things are essential for you? What kind of financial examples did your parents display?  

It's crucial to get an idea of how your future spouse handles money, because he or she will be your “business” partner for life. One of you might need to grow more sacrificial in your  wants, while the other might benefit from loosening up on restrictions. Find a balance and learn how to compromise while identifying your shared financial goals. 

Set realistic expectations. 

One of my major pieces of advice is to stop looking at Instagram. There seems to be an ideal for millennials to have a house and two new cars by their late twenties. Some do accomplish this, but perhaps only with great debt. Its okay--and wise--to not be able to purchase a house right away. It's realistic to only have one car until a few years into your marriage. 

 It's also normal to not be able to have a social-media-worthy wedding. The life you and your fiancé are beginning is about both of you and how well you choose to shape it. God calls us to live with what he gives us, in order to care for each other and foster a simple, holy home environment. And your shared happiness will come easier without comparisons to everyone else’s seemingly “perfect” life. 

Know your financial playbook.

Start with what you have, identify what is most important, and make a flexible plan together. Are you starting out with student loans? Learn how to refinance them and get yourself on a manageable repayment plan. Are you having a baby right away? Find out what your insurance covers and learn how to look for inexpensive supplies. 

And, I cannot stress this enough: make a budget! Your budget will allow you to take an overall look at your financial state at any point and  give you a clear idea of where you are. It will allow you to grow in prudence and help you identify what is realistic for your family in terms of housing, food, and utilities. Being sacrificial can go a long way! My personal budgeting resource is mint.com, which allows you to connect your bank, credit cards, and any other billing accounts online in one easy place. 

Continue to grow in financial literacy. 

These are great resources  to start with, and it will only get better as you learn more. Pick up simple resources like Personal Finances for Dummies or find financial blogs for beginners. Always educate yourself before making economic decisions. It might not be the most entertaining way to spend your time, but I can guarantee it will give you greater peace of mind. 

All this being said, the most important thing is to consider your financial decisions together and with God. No matter what kind of obstacles pop up, He will always provide. Basing your actions in prayer is a vital component, helping you both discern God’s will in confidence.


About the Author: Larabeth Miller resides in Florida with her husband and two children. She likes to write and paint whenever she's not chasing after her two-year-old.

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Meet Our New Editorial Team!

This month, we’re thrilled to announce the addition of new members to the Spoken Bride team; women with honest, passionate hearts for the beautiful and the real to join us in our mission. We are proud and pleased to introduce our new editors to you today and to share their insights and the fruits of their hard work in the months to come!

Larabeth Miller, Associate Editor

I’m so blessed to join Spoken Bride as Associate Editor. When I got engaged three years ago, Spoken Bride was a pivotal resource as I prepared for my new vocation as a wife. I have continued to draw inspiration from this ministry even as a newlywed and have enjoyed watching it grow in beauty, truth and holiness. That is why I am honored to be able to aid in continuing this mission!

I am originally from Colorado but currently reside in North Carolina with my husband as he finishes up medical school. We have one 18-month-old son who is my constant companion as I write, paint, and keep our house running. In the past, I had the amazing experience of being able to work for the Little Sisters of the Poor at the Mullen House in Denver. I’ve enjoyed writing contributions for The Young Catholic Woman and Ignitum Today. I’ve also shared some of my artwork at Graced by Color on Facebook and in the summer 2018 issue of Radiant Magazine. My dream is to have more kids, be the best wife ever, and get my theology degree!

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

I first came across Spoken Bride googling “Catholic bride blogs” after getting engaged in the summer of 2016--only two months after Spoken Bride launched. I was immediately drawn in by the beautiful and professional website, tearjerking proposal and wedding stories, and poetic truth on every page. I have followed the blog ever since.

It is so crazy that, a couple years later, I now have the privilege to be your Features Editor. God is so good. I am most looking forward to crying happy tears as I edit beautiful, holy, and inspirational engagement and wedding stories.

The deserts of Arizona are my home and have my heart, no matter where I go. I still live here with my husband as he finishes school and will be commissioned as an officer in the Army National Guard. We are high school sweethearts and newlyweds approaching our first anniversary in December! I have a psychology degree from Arizona State and a theological studies minor from the University of Mary. I am extremely bookish, try to dress “librarian chic,” love country dancing, and want to become a saint. Writing and theology are my passions, and my dream is to publish a book someday. Ad Jesum per Mariam!

 

Stephanie Fries, Editor at Large

The time between engagement and marriage for my now-husband and I moved at top speed. Throughout our planning and preparation, the resources from Spoken Bride not only influenced our wedding program and requests for specific photographs, but also provided a community of like-minded women who, unknowingly, inspired many of the plans for our wedding liturgy. For me, working as the Editor at Large with Spoken Bride is an invitation to offer my love of Catholic theology, vocation, and creativity back into a community that has helped me grow in confidence as a woman, bride, and wife.

I am proud to say that Kentucky was my first home where I was born and raised. Although a cradle Catholic, I began to develop a deep affection for and understanding of my faith after being exposed to the teachings of the Theology of the Body. I spent my early twenties in Washington, D.C. where I played field hockey and graduated from American University, taught at a Reggio-inspired preschool, and ate my fair share of Georgetown Cupcakes.

In October 2017, I moved to San Diego to discern marriage with my husband; by August 2018, we were married and moving to Japan! We are settling into our first home on a Navy base, building community, exploring our new neighborhood, and practicing self-control against the temptations for endless gyoza and sushi and ramen. Needless to say, I have a love for food! When I’m not eating or writing, you may find me drinking coffee, hiking, reading a book, or getting lost in Japan with my husband.

Tips for When You and Your Beloved's Prayer Lives Feel in Different Places

LARABETH MILLER

 

As a newlywed, I had this perfect image of married spirituality. I felt I had a spiritual life that had already known suffering, and that a golden triangle between my me, my new husband, and God seemed like a new beginning. A chance for deep, holy camaraderie.

Photography: Spoken Bride Vendor    An Endless Pursuit

Photography: Spoken Bride Vendor An Endless Pursuit

I was a bit surprised during marriage prep to find my husband and I unequally yoked in our understandings of our souls. I remember the day I asked him if we could try to pray the rosary a few times a week together. Even though he knew praying the rosary is good, he didn’t see the necessity of saying the Hail Mary over and over. And even though I tried to explain the mediation aspect, his mind was still stuck on the practicality of it: “Doesn’t Our Lady know we love her if we just say it once?” he asked. From there, I didn’t know how to change his mind, and I felt powerless. Yet he graciously complied, knowing it was what I wanted.

In my mind, it was now my duty to help him grow closer to God and I was already a failure.

As our married days turned into months, I became puzzled and frustrated as to how to handle these differences in our spiritual lives. When we conceived our first baby, the gravity of our duty as spiritual guides to our children suddenly leaped before me. I panicked, knowing the family unit is the top institution Satan aims to destroy. I wanted to enforce a prayer regimen for my husband and I, thinking this would draw us closer to seeing eye to eye in devotion and fortitude.

But this is not how marriage works. Matthew’s Gospel demonstrates that each of us arrives at the vineyards at different times, just as God intended. That is the true beauty of it: God has placed this man into your life so that he can have a companion with whom to experience divine love. Your job as a spouse is to care for him now, in body and soul. More often than not, that requires prayer to be done in silence, all while being unseen.

Don’t let this fool you into thinking you are less. Christ knows your every fiber and virtue. Your gifts hold every tool needed to help--or in some cases, drag--your spouse to heaven. I had to learn that the only responsibility we have is to draw our own eyes towards God, and to abandon our husbands to the will of the Father.

I’ve realized your marriage will fall short in more ways than you can imagine. You are, after all, married to a human being. He may not be able to understand your struggles or have the right words to say when you experience the “bad times” recognized in your vows. When it comes to sickness and health, it’s not just the body, but also the soul that can be afflicted. One or both of you may have vices that seem insurmountable. Even external complications might present themselves, only to be wrestled with for some time.

As your lives progress, so many things will cause both of you to fail in providing for each other’s needs. I’ve found it helpful to always speak up gently and ask your spouse about his or her needs, but you can’t expect anything to be perfect. We are always called to carry the crosses of our spouse, in a life that can sometimes seem like Calvary.

That is why Christ will always be your first love. Where else would he fit into your marriage but in the gaping holes and cracks neither of you can fill alone?

Why would there ever be any reason to run after him faster if everything was solved? What a blessing to experience the empty losses and hollow recesses our souls, screaming with the desire to have Christ fill each one…and then overflow.

God will also see to it that as you draw closer to him, your husband will encounter him through your love. Nothing needs to be said; only done. Your prayers are heard through acts of service, sacrifices of your time and your body, and especially through your intimacy, when you both are the closest you can be.  

Be aware that you will have to fight. In my experience, being under attack is real. Don’t let anything stop you from praying for your husband, in whatever way you choose. If you are feeling weak, pray for his fortitude.

Do not underestimate the graces set aside for you and your spouse. They were given on your wedding day and will never run out.

God did not intend for you to despair. Ask for these graces any chance you get. They are your weapon, your fortress.

This sounds counterintuitive, but consider that we seek Christ as our first love: Detach from your spouse. Father Jacques Philippe says,

“We must put everything, without exception, into the hands of God, not by seeking any longer to manage or ‘to save’ ourselves by our own means: not in the material domain, nor the emotional, nor the spiritual… The measure of our interior peace will be that of our abandonment, consequently of our detachment.”

There is no situation where you can control all of your surroundings, your spouse’s actions, or the events at hand all while maintaining perfect, holy peace. In order to have and keep this peace, every segment of our lives must be abandoned to the will of God. Even our spouse.

Father Philippe goes into more detail on this is his book Searching for and Maintaining Peace, which would benefit every human being alive.

It takes time to realize the true meaning of marriage is a million times more than anything novels or movies show. The endless graces Christ gives in order to uphold our vows results in an immeasurable joy that’s hard to comprehend. This golden triangle, this bond, this promise, transcends every circumstance or battle imaginable. God’s covenant and love are meant to be there for the long haul...and so should we.


About the Author: Larabeth and her husband have been married for two years and have a one-year-old son. They reside in North Carolina for now, where Larabeth supports her husband through medical school while doing a mix of working, painting, writing and being a mother.

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