Before my husband and I were engaged, we took a financial class together. To some people, this made no sense. After all, we didn’t know if we were getting married! Why bother to sit through a boring discussion of budgets in our spare time?
Yet to this day, Josh and I look back on that class as the best decision we made as a dating couple. Not only did it improve our relationship at the time, but it set us up for long-term success when we did get married. Here are three benefits to taking a financial class together when you’re dating or engaged.
1. It opens the door for a discussion of your priorities.
Writing out a budget forced us to discuss our personal priorities. I grew up without cable TV, so I didn’t see it as a necessary expense. This was something we hadn’t previously discussed, so we went over the pros and cons of paying for cable. We talked about the grocery budget—what kinds of foods we liked to eat, if they were expensive and how we could do better about eating out. As we discussed each part of the budget, we found out new things about one another: what we valued, what we spent money on and what we wanted for the future.
2. You learn each other’s spending habits.
Both of us liked to spend our money. While we had substantial savings, we also liked to shop—though we bought very different things! Josh was liberal with gifts, spending money on others with no eye for cost. I had a tendency to make many small purchases that add up over time. By learning one another’s spending habits, we helped each other tweak potential budgets and held one another accountable for our spending.
This habit, formed early, helped us save for marriage. It also helped us get accustomed to using a type of budget we’d eventually use when married. Once we were married, the habits we formed through the financial class helped us pay off my husband’s student loans ($30,000) in 15 months.
3. You can make a practical plan for the future.
The financial class led us to talk about more than just finances. We talked about our hopes for the future and our expectations for what that might look like. We learned a lot about one another through these discussions: how our values influenced our spending, how much money meant to us and what we’d need to do in order to prepare for marriage and family down the road.
If you’re seriously dating or engaged, we highly encourage looking into a financial class at your church or local college. We took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, which offers a biblical approach to financial wisdom.
To read more about how we became debt-free, click here.