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Growing Together as a Young Couple: Money

on June 18, 2012 by Jami Balmet 30 comments

I wrote last week in response to an article that appeared in the Huffington Post, Should Marriage Before 25 Be Illegal? Through writing that post, I have found many likeminded young married’s, and I am delighted to meet so many new friends.

Many people I meet, though, feel that getting married at 19 and becoming pregnant with our first baby at 22 is ridiculous. Even within the church, many don’t understand why we would get married so young and choose to start a family at young ages. They think we need to experience the world more, travel, or start a solid career first.

What does it look like to be married young and have no money. Can you make it work? Here's one young couples story of how they grew together when they had nothing!
Our rehearsal dinner {5.16.09}
Let me just stop right here and say that I firmly believe that God appoints the time you meet and marry your spouse. Some meet him at 16 and some are 30. I fully believe that it’s God’s timing and it will be different for everyone. Getting married young is not for everyone, but I do believe it is for some. Moving on.

For those that God does call to marriage at a young age, there are a number of benefits that help establish marriage on a firm foundation. I know it has for my marriage.

We have been able to grow up together with regard to money. We formed habits together as a couple rather than separately, we developed our free time together, and we have learned what it means to grow in the Lord together. I will touch on each of these in the coming weeks, but today I want to talk about money.

Handling Money as a Young Married Couple

My husband and I had nothing when we got married. We had both completed one year at a Christian university and had paid for everything ourselves. We both worked around our school schedule and full time during the summer. We rented a great little one bed room apartment. We didn’t have a lot, but we didn’t need a whole lot.

Eating out at fast food restaurants was a luxury for us. Mostly we ate rice and beans and loved every minute of it! Of course there were stressful times when we weren’t sure if we would make rent, but ultimately God provided every time.

A year later my husband graduated college and got a fantastic job that has turned into his career. A year after that I graduated college and got a full time job at a Christian university. We finally were building a savings, dreaming of buying a home, and paying off some student loans. Fast forward 2 more years and my husband was offered a promotion and a job he can be in for the next 10 years with plenty of room to grow. I am now a stay at home wife eagerly anticipating the arrival of our first bundle of joy later this year when I will happily become a stay at home mom.

Why do I tell you this? Because we have grown into our money together.

We were together when we both made minimum wage and had to scrape together money for a grocery budget. But then we had the excitement of saving up to buy our first flat screen TV. We had some financially tight spots where a dollar couldn’t go uncounted. But we have grown and we have had the freedom to walk into the grocery store and be able to throw some extra things into the cart without worry.

We have learned how to deal with money together. We learned what it means to make a budget and stick to it! We learned what it means to finally have some extra money and blow it all on eating out and to get to the end of the month with nothing to show for it.


Managing money together

And most importantly, we always knew that money was both of ours. I have never felt that money was mine or his. We have always been very transparent with money with each other. We don’t have fights about money {usually}. We share it very easily {usually, there are of course occasional off days ;)}.

I think the difference is that, since we both made minimum wage at our first job {where we met}, we have looked at money as both of ours. We never had money of our own to spend. We didn’t live for 5 years by ourselves making all of the decisions on our own about money. I wasn’t used to taking my own money and going clothing shopping whenever I wanted to with no one to answer to.

We make money decisions together and we always have.

Even three years later, with more money coming in, it is rare to make a purchase larger than $20 without the other knowing about it before. We would never dream of spending $50 before checking with the other first.

This has created a beautiful environment of accountability and trust. Because we are always honest with each other, it is easier to allow each other the occasional treat without getting jealous or uptight over the money.

They say that money is the biggest cause of strife in a marriage, and I can certainly see why this would be the case. When we have been tight with money, tensions can run high and we get stresssed. But the beatuiful thing is that we can always rely on each other to get through the tough times and we do not have fights over who spent what money, because in reality all money decisions are always made by the both of us. Do we have slight disagreements sometimes about how to spend the money? Naturally. But we also know that we have to work through it, so we always move forward and find a resolution.

I am not saying that those who lived on their own for 10 years and had a great career with money to spend how they want won’t have a good marriage when it comes to money. I just know that, for us, it has made life easier. It makes me sad to hear of married couples who have separate bank accounts and don’t discuss money together. If we are to be one within marriage, why doesn’t that extend to money?

I’m curious, how is money handled in your family? If you were married young did you have a similar experience as us or different? And if you waited a while before marriage how did that affect your marriage when it came to money? I know that each experience is unique and I want to hear YOUR stories, experiences, and advice!

And come back on Wednesday as I discuss the benefits of developing habits together as a young couple!

 Read More on Young Marriage:

Are all young marriages doomed? Here are my top 10 myths about getting married young!


Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers
  1. We got married when we were 23 and 30. By that time, my husband had lived on his own for several years and then moved back with his parents for university. I had put myself through university by working several jobs plus spent a summer overseas. I had savings; he had a credit card debt. I had nothing; he had a truck, some furniture, kitchen stuff. When we first married, I was working and he was a student. Since then, I’ve been on maternity leave twice, he’s had a good job, no job, part-time jobs, and is back in university. Right now, we’re living off student loans and have separate bank accounts (for student loan purposes) and it is STRESSFUL. I DO NOT recommend separate bank accounts; it’s a huge hassle and for me, it feels like it splits our money in half and creates a lot of tension between us. Because most of the money is “his” right now, as he’s the only one working part-time, but I pay most of our bills (because I’m the organized one). So for us, money has been a stress, but it helps when we talk about it lots, as you say. I look forward to the day when he does have a good job and we don’t have to worry about money. And I want to say you are so lucky to have a husband who supports you as a stay-at-home mom.

    • Wow, interesting to see the difference. And that he lived on his own for a few years. That does sound stressful, although it sounds like you still know what money the family has. Some people have separate accounts and are not allowed to see into each others accounts. Praying for you! That’s how we felt being married in college with part time jobs! But we didn’t have any kiddos yet.

      Yes, I feel VERY blessed that my hubby is able to support me as a stay at home wife. Finances are a bit tight again know that I am not working but his income should raise over the next year as well. It’s all in God’s timing!

  2. Money is tricky in marriage. I’m so glad you’ve really laid out a good foundation here. My husband and I work with a budget and have since marriage, but it’s really hard for me to give and take with our categories sometimes. He’s a spender and I’m a saver, so we complement one another well, but it takes loads of grace to work it out sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

    • Money is SO tricky in marriage. It can so easily tear us apart if we are not careful!! We are both spenders lol which is not good for our bank account but I think we tend to have less fights because of it. One of will realize we are being dumb and need to stop spending money and the other feels guilty and realizes that one is right!! lol…it has taken us a while to figure out the whole saving thing. BUT we are doing it together 🙂 Learning and growing 🙂 Yes, GRACE is the key lol.

  3. I had already learned to budget and how to handle finances before we got married, but he’s a huge saver and so it hasn’t been too much of an “issue” coming between us. But it has been nice starting with nothing, and being happy together, and slowly building our lives together, getting a bigger place to live etc.

    I agree with you that getting married early isn’t for every one but it IS for some (we were both 18 when we wed)

    it’s gonna be hard whenever you get married! 😛 but I have really enjoyed the “growing up” together sense that comes from getting married so early.

    • That is great that money hasn’t been too big of an issue. Yes, I feel like we get to upgrade together. We first lived in a one bedroom apartment, then a two bedroom and now looking at buying a house. It’s fun to experience these things together!

  4. I got married at 22 (my husband was 26). We were broke, broke, broke when we got married. My husband’s career got off to a very rocky start and people were unhappy that I married him. I knew God put us together, though. We both had thousands in credit card debt and huge student loans. Now it’s been almost 7 years, we are credit card debt free and have a savings account. Hubby’s career has taken off and he’s made huge strides faster than anyone expected. We’ve been following Dave Ramsey’s financial plan and will be tackling our student loans this fall.

    And, God willing, we’ll be able to start a family soon! Getting married early and having no money was tough but definitely worked out. Like you, we had no money and had to learn how to budget. Now we are fairly conscious about where the money goes, clear any purchases with the other person first, and thank God for leading us to where we are now. 🙂

    • How wonderful to see how much you have been able to pay off in just 7 years!! I love Dave Ramsey. We have student loans we are working on getting through too…it just takes so much work! lol.

      That’s wonderful that you have learned to use money together!

  5. my husband was 24 and i was 22 1/2 when we married 30 years ago. we had both been out of college for one year before we got married. i had continued to live at home, while he rented an apt (he had come to a different state for college, which was near where i lived, and then he ended up staying in the area after graduation). we had lots of money decisions to make together in our early days of marriage, including working through his job layoff and having very little money to spend for ‘extras’ sometimes. i agree with your points in your post about talking things over and growing together through those times. i also like how you pointed out that you hadn’t gotten to the point of being totally on your own, spending your own money without thought of others, etc. i can see where getting married at a young age would help that kind of thing. it saddens me to see so many in the church even, encouraging young people to delay marriage, live for yourself, etc. of course God has his timing for each situation, but generally, i think the longer one lives alone, the more he/she gets used to making his own decisions, spending his own money, and those kinds of things. and it’s not always the best. or at least, it makes more of an adjustment after marriage. that is one of the reasons i think children should share a bedroom if possible, with a sibling. why should we let our children grow up with 18-20 years of ‘self’, then expect them to move into marriage without major adjustments? marriage in itself is an adjustment, and i think there’s no need to add extra to it. most married people sleep together, eat together, drive places together. but after looking out for ‘number one’ (self) for 20 years, it can be a real challenge to suddenly be considering someone else’s thoughts, sharing with someone else.
    yes, if God doesn’t bring you into marriage until later in life, yes if God does not give you children until you’ve been married a long time, he gives the grace in those situations. but encouraging the young people to date around, delay marriage or children, live for yourself, well that just makes me sad. the philosophy seems to be that if we give them those extra years to themselves, they’ll be more ready to settle down in marriage. after you just gave them 5 or 10 more years for the weeds of selfishness to become more entrenched in their lives? i think not.

    • Wow, congrats on 30 years!! 🙂 I think you hit the issue. Many people (even within the church) encourage young people to “life for yourself” and get out and experience the world. Which of course opens up everyone to temptation.

      I have never thought about that with siblings sharing a room but it makes perfect sense!! Yes, teaching our children to be selfless and having a heart of servitude can really help with marriage.

      Thank you for stopping by!! You so perfectly said what I was trying too.

  6. It’s funny, I wrote a similar blog post yesterday on this, kind of. My hubs and I were married almost a year and a half ago, I was 21 and he was 23. We were both in college, and working part-time. We shared a 300 sq ft studio apartment for 8 months while we socked away savings to buy a house, and that’s exactly what we did. We’ve been in our awesome house for almost a year now, and have a 2 month old baby boy. I quit my job right before he was born and BOY WAS THAT STRESSFUL!!! On paper, numbers didn’t crunch for my husband income and our bills. So far we’re surviving, but you could definitely say we don’t pay for our bread, we PRAY for our bread 🙂

    • How exciting that you were able to buy a house right away! We are saving up for a house and hope to buying later this year 🙂 And congrats on your new baby! Lol I love that, you are praying for your bread not paying for it 😉 Thanks for stopping by Emily!

  7. Money is one of the most obvious ways that my husband and I have been able to see God’s provision. It’s also a curriculum in self-control. And an opportunity for discussion, stewardship, enjoying life together, kingdom building, and keeping our eyes fixed on Heaven. In fact, it makes me realize how potentially powerful idols in life can also be potent means of sanctification!

  8. My husband and I have a similar story. Our budget has fluctuated back and forth a little as our life situations have changed, but our first 6 months were extremely tight! We actually lived without internet at home, can you believe it? I had to go to the library to get on the computer! (That was before I started blogging 🙂 We’ve grown together in our ability to manage money.

  9. My parents raised us children to hate debt. My parents had a mortgage once, but got rid of the house, tore up the credit cards and never looked back to this day. My husband’s parents encouraged them that credit was a good thing for your status. We both had parents that could not afford to put us through college. So I worked my way through the few years of college I attended, and my husband joined the military so that he could afford college. We married when I was 20 and he was 22. We lived in an apartment with paper thin walls, but it was close to his station and affordable. By the end of our first year of marriage, his truck was paid off (the only debt he had acquired). By the end of our second year of marriage, we had $10,000 in savings, and we bought a house well below our ‘qualification amount’. Going on Five years of marriage, I still kinda wish we had just continued to rent and paid for a house outright because you lose so much of your mortgage payment to interest in the first 10 years, but Lord willing we desire to have it paid off no later than 7 years from the time we got the mortgage so we don’t lose too much in interest! I never could understand how people could think debt in cars, houses, credit cards, ect is good. I am thankful for parents that realized it just sets you back further.

    • p.s. as people who do not go into debt starting out, it may look like they have nothing, but at least they are not 10 years behind in debts of shiny new toys……when buying on credit you usually end up paying at least 1/3 extra the price in the end.

  10. Just stumbles across your blog and finding it intersting reading. I got married when I was 22 to my husband who was 33 the time. He was a student and so was I, althought he owned his own home. We had so little money no ey, but that didn’t matter because we could see the future. We do t actually have joint finances, well, we have one joint account and two individual accounts where our salary is paid. As a doctor he is the main bread winner and so he pays for most things and is very sensible with money. I don’t think a couple always has to have a joint account ( in the uk, it makes more sense to have separate as we get better interest) but trust and having common ideas is fundamental.

  11. I just found your blog- very interesting. I’m also a stay-at-home mom who got married young. I was 21 and my hubby 22. We have a one-yr-old and another on the way! 🙂 So we also are growing together in the area of money. It is definitely an advantage of getting married young!! We don’t have a budget, per se, but we want to figure out a way to do that, so we don’t have to come to the end of the month and wonder, “Where did all that money go??” We have a finance tracking program, and most of our transactions are paperless. I’m just curious, do you use a cash system? Where you set aside a certain amount for grocery, a certain amount for electric, etc? Or is there a way you can budget paperless, and still not overspend your budget?

  12. I’m not a religious person, but I really love the way you look at marriage and truly respect you. I agree that if you both feel like it is the right thing, then marriage at a young age is a beautiful thing. Me and my boyfriend both see our money is “ours”, even though he is the person who earns the most. I hope that as mine and my boyfriend’s relationship continues, we can tie the knot and be happy for the rest of our lives. I hope the delivery of your twins goes well, and that you find great happiness and contentment in being a mother.

  13. We have used an awesome app (“Goodbudget”) since the beginning of our marriage and it has helped us tremendously! Like you and your hubby, we never really had spending money of our own since we never lived on our own, so we very rarely disagree on anything about money. BUT, this app is basically the ‘cash in envelopes’ budget set up. You set a certain amount “inside” of each envelope and you simply just do not spend any more than what is in the envelope. A nice bonus is if you don’t spend all the “cash” that is in a particular envelope, say the grocery budget envelope, it rolls over so you have a little extra the next month and can then afford to buy something a little nicer 🙂 We really like this set up a lot because we chose together how we want to use our money, and then there’s no further objections. You just stick to the plan and you’re golden!

    And just a tip for anyone who might be interested, if you can’t afford a one bedroom (we’re in California, so renting ANYTHING is extremely expensive!), check into guest houses! My hubs and I lived in an adorable classic-American cottage style guest house for our first year of marriage. It was a tiny – and I mean tiny! – little house, but it was a lovely place to call home, and for about half the price of any of the cheaper (and let’s be honest, kind of “ghetto”) options. We found it through our college’s “swapmeet” site, and it was a HUGE blessing. Ask around at your church, your Christian college, your friends/family about it. It was a mega money saver for getting started and it was so much more fun! Granted, there are some complications, like not having a stove (we used a hot plate and a toaster oven and a microwave and did just fine), or washer/dryer, extra storage, but these are all things that you can find work-a-rounds for, or simply do without. It’s a great option for young newly weds! It really helped us get going much faster than we would have otherwise!

    Thanks for this post – it is fun to read about someone with similar experiences! 🙂

  14. My husband and I just got married a year ago. I am 23 and he is 25. We are definitely low on the money end of things. Are there any suggestions may have. Especially with grocery shopping? You said you were on a rice and beans diet. What did that entail for you? Did you have a plan with how you budgeted. Right now my husband is just starting a new job and I am back in school so I can help with our student loans. Any suggestion would be great. Thanks so much for your encouraging words!!

  15. I can relate so much to this post. I met my fiancé at 19 and although we weren’t married, we moved in together at 20 and have always shared every cent we made. People always used to warn us what a bad idea it was and how we needed separate banking accounts to retain our independence but I always felt like when you both live paycheck to paycheck what’s the sense in splitting them up? We’re 26 now and finally able to save enough to get married this August and can’t wait. We look back fondly on the days when we lived off macaroni and ramen noodles in our little apartment with broken everything and lousy neighbors and it really helps us appreciate how blessed we are now.

  16. Thank you so much for your inspiring story. I’m 20 and am in a loving and spiritual relationship and we are contemplating marriage. There are so many naysayers however, including my parents. His family on the other hand is completely supportive. He is 24 and working and I’m still a student. We still dont know how it would work financially. Thanks for the insight!

  17. This was so encouraging to read. I am 20 and my fiance is 18. When we get married I will be 21 and he’ll be 19. When I talk to my parents about living life after being married they want us to be together but they keep saying we need to wait another year. This breaks my heart because I am ready to get married and start my life even though we are young. WE know the challenges that we will face but it’s still a challenge and if I didn’t have God some days I wouldn’t know where to turn. When we announced our engagement I got one couple in our church to actually acknowledge the engagement and congratulate us, and they were married at 18. Everything I have read about your experience has given me a huge sigh of relief. I know with God’s mercy and love we can make it. Keep posting about your past and present experiences to keep people like me sane.

  18. My husband and I have been married for almost two years. We were both 22 when we married and we established that our money would be one as well as everything about the union God approved for us. We have several bank accounts just to help us to keep up with certain bills we have to pay. We never closed our own personal bank accounts we just added each other to them. So know when I pull up our bank statements, ALL balances are shown. We talk whenever we are making purchases that are not lunch or for gas for the car. Typically, I handle the finances as far as making sure all bill payments are sent off in a timely manner.

  19. My husband and I have been married for four years, and honestly as far as money the easiest thing to do has been to have one savings and checking account where everything is deposited into. We started out with one first because when we first got married neither of us had much so we opened one together then once we started making more we got different accounts. I just think was a mistake not a big one though because we did not make a significant amount of money financially it benefited us to have the money in one pot and develop a budget that we both stick to. I don’t really consider myself as getting married young well to some people its young I was 23 and my husband was 25 but we were poor and had hardly anything. Its been a lot of ups and downs but I would not have it any other way. As of now we both live with my mom since she has a spacious 4 bedroom house and its just her. I am enrolled in University where I have a year left and my husband is at Tulsa Welding School where he plans to get a career so that we can get better on our feet. Sometimes we beat ourselves up because at our age now 27 and 29 we feel we should have so much more but at the end of the day we can only work with what we have and work hard and plan today for a better future.