The first thing you need to know is that my wife and I are on Dave Ramsey’s program, baby step #2 - the debt snowball. If you are not familiar, hit the source link.
The second thing you need to know is that my wife is a graduate assistant, which means she doesn’t have to pay tuition while working on a PhD. YES! AWESOME! HOORAY! At roughly $1500 per class, this is HUGE!.
What isn’t huge? Her salary. Her take home pay is about $15,000 a year. The poverty line is where? Before we got married, she would have qualified for food stamps! Luckily, I have a job.
In my job as a high school music teacher, I make O.K. money. I am not one of those teachers that thinks I am drastically underpaid. My wages are fair. Fair means that I use a budget and pack a lunch to work and eat leftovers for lunch. The key word is budget. Before my wife came along and we got on the Dave Ramsey plan, this is what my budget looked like-
Monthly income, minus monthly expenses = roughly zero-ish, maybe more maybe less depending on what movies and xbox games I bought that month.
Now my budget is incredibly detailed. My wife and I are both nerds. We each have in-depth spreadsheets outlining every expense and every ounce of income before each month begins. Over the top? Maybe, but it works for us.
Most importantly, it allows us to get a head and succeed with our debt snowball.
This is where the dirty word comes in. Tax.
This is what a wife tax is. At the end of every month, the “leftover” money - my income not spent on bills/groceries/mortgage/etc - is given to my wife. Right now she is the primary payer on the debt item we are focused on in the debt snowball, so she gets the extra money. The first month we were on the plan, we joked around and called it a “wife tax.” So, when I wrote my wife a $600 check (we still don’t have a joint checking account, we’re working on it), I wrote “Wife Tax” on the memo line.
She thought it was hysterical. Her mother thought it was hysterical. Guys - you know what making a mother-in-law laugh means. It is HUGE. Almost worth writing a $600 check every month and NOT reducing your debt! Better yet, the bank teller laughed when she deposited the check.
You know who didn’t laugh about the first wife tax check? Me. The husband. This used to be my money. This was how I blew money in the grocery store on food/drink I didn’t need, how I picked up the tab when my wife and I would go out to eat, how I felt the freedom to be careless with money.
That last one is a big one.
The money I gave to my wife to pay off our debt was the money that gave me an excuse not to manage money. The first five years of my professional life, I did not live on a budget. Some months were good, some months were bad. I did not keep track. A positive balance was freedom to spend on whatever I wanted.
Being married and committed to BLOWING OUR DEBT OUT OF THE FREAKING WATER changed my outlook. I was and am happy to be able to give my wife that money every month, because I know what it is doing for us. Getting out of debt is an insurance policy to NEVER FIGHT ABOUT MONEY.
Have you ever fought with your spouse about money? Why? Leave your comments and let’s start a dialogue.
(In June we will be on to the next debt item, one that I am the primary payer on, which only means one thing - HUSBAND TAX!)