Yesterday, my wife and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. In her card I went through all the major events that we accomplished over that period.
- Got married
- Bought and renovated 3 houses
- Sold 1 house
- Moved 5 times
- Gave birth to 3 children
- Changed jobs 5 times
- Paid off over $19,000 in debt
- Amassed over $250,000 in assets
- Lost 3 grandparents and 1 dear family friend
I wanted to take a moment to think about all the things that happened to us over the first 8 years of our marriage. The events above are some of the most stressful that a person will face in their lifetime. Writing it all out amazed me.
At one point, Elizabeth was pregnant with our third child (in the summer), we moved across Virginia, and I changed jobs. We are a single income family, so any time that I change jobs is super stressful.
Getting married has been an adventure to say the least. I now fully understand all the advice I got from the older men I know. They were so right and I was so wrong and naïve. Marriage is not for the faint of heart and should never be taken lightly. It is a job in and of itself. Constantly making decisions with another person is painstaking even if you are a good match for each other.
One of the reasons that Elizabeth and I are successful in our marriage is due to our agreement on money and family. We are on the same page and that matters more than anything else. Money is the demise of so many marriages and we decided together in 2006 that it would not be our demise.
With kids we had agreed on 2 or 4 before we ever got married. It’s important to discuss children before marriage because you need to know where each other stand. You don’t want to find out 5 years into your marriage that your partner does not want kids or that they want 19 kids. We actually have 3 and will most likely stay that way. The important part is that we knew beforehand where we stood and made our decisions along the way together.
Anniversary planning is one area where I am really terrible. My efforts are sub-par thus far. So this year I started thinking about really cool things to do. I even considered buying 2 round trip tickets to New York or some other large city just for one night. Then I started to think. That does not match with our priorities and how we live our lives. Sure it would be fun to go blow $2,000 dollars on one night in New York or Las Vegas. But that is not smart and not how we live.
Part of our gift to our family for the summer is getting Busch Gardens Williamsburg passes. It is relatively inexpensive for a good amount of family fun. We buy one full year pass which gives free parking and discount on food and drinks, one adult fun card and the kids (5 and under) get free preschool fun passes. This ties into the anniversary because Elizabeth and I never get to go without kids. I decided to take her there. It did not cost us anything to get in and it was super fun. Roller coasters scare my wife, but she rode everyone that I did. It was so fun to see her nervous and giddy. She screamed on each ride. It was like seeing her as a child. Going there was such a good decision monetarily and for the fun factor. Being there felt like we were teenagers again even if just for a moment.
We did make one financial mistake while at the amusement park. We bought one of the pictures taken on the Loch Ness Monster. It was a mistake because it was $18 bucks. The sign read that a photo with frame was $19.95 and then underneath said “Additional Items” 6×8 photo or key chain for $5.00. We thought that you could buy the photo without the frame for $5. We were wrong. Good thing it’s a funny photo. Note to self: don’t buy any pictures taken by the amusement park.
We left the park after a few hours of fun, stopped in to feed our 9 month old, and then went out to dinner.
So here is the breakdown of what our anniversary cost:
- Lunch at Pierce’s Barbeque: $16
- Tickets to Busch Gardens: Prepaid and budgeted before
- Photo from the Loch Ness: $18
- Dinner at Marker 20 in Hampton, VA: $35
Our eighth anniversary cost us less than seventy dollars and was the best one on record. We both enjoyed the night off from our kids and really enjoyed being with each other at the amusement park.
I wanted to share this story because I want people to see an honest picture of what two people carry out by working together, even on a modest income. We do not drive fancy cars or own huge beautiful houses. However we have wonderful children and have freedom from financial worry. Those things are more valuable to us than anything else in the world.
Comment with your stories about marriage and finances.