Today’s Relationships and Money spotlight is a guest post from my good old friend Patricio and my wonderful new friend, Carmelita. Because being a priest comes with unusual benefits (housing) this management strategy might resonate with some of you whose jobs have perks outside of typical paychecks and benefits. Patricio and Carmelita also are adjusting to future parenthood, which means changes in money priorities. Enjoy!
Subjects: Patricio, 30 a priest in the Episcopal Church and Carmelita, 26 a barista at a local bakery & coffee shop.
We have been married for a year and a half, are expecting our first kid in October and have a puppy just a little bit older than our marriage. My work provides us with a nice two-bedroom house and covers all of our utilities except for cable (they keep 1/3 of what my salary on my paper is in exchange for this).
I make about three times as much as Carmelita. Since my work provides housing our main financial concern right now is the baby on the way. I drive a small convertible, not even close to a family friendly car, so replacing this is a baby-related cost we’ll have soon. Getting our own place is a long-term goal, just one we fortunately don’t have to think about any time soon.
Since I graduated from seminary I have meticulously kept track of my of all my income and expenses on a nifty excel chart I found online and adapted to my needs. After we were married we added Carmelita to the bank accounts I already had but she kept hers since she already had direct deposit set up and her parents would monthly deposit money to her account as their way of paying for a car they bought her before we were married. This made keeping track of our expenses overly complicated, every month she would cut me a check to cover our credit card bill* and my nifty excel chart was off because money was all over the place.
At the beginning of this year her work changed over their payroll so we took advantage of this and streamlined our stuff. Her old account is now basically an emergency fund, nothing is going in to it (the car was paid off at the beginning of this year) and very little comes out of it. Our income tracking is now accurate and as long as I spend a little time each week or so at it so is our expense tracking. We don’t really work with a budget instead I know the trends of what we spend and what we earn and we’re able to make that work. We easily can see if we’ve been dining out too much, or if we’ve been spending too much money on stuff for the house, or whatever, and lay off whatever that is, or on the flipside if we haven’t gone out to eat in a while we can treat ourselves to something particularly nice.
By doing this, we have been able to donate ten percent of our income to our church, and a little bit more on top of that to various charities we care about. Most months we have been able to put aside $500 into savings. Carmelita has no student loan debt and I am down to about $5-6 k owed. We overpay the amount on this by $50 each month, so I think my next payment is technically due sometime in 2016 and it will be paid off within the next two years, about five years ahead of schedule. Another great part about my job, speaking financially, is the Episcopal Pension Fund. As a priest, whatever parish I work for is required to contribute 18% of my salary to my pension. I am able to contribute more, and have in years previous and plan to again but stopped this year since I began serving at a new parish and haven’t set it up yet.
A strict budget wouldn’t work for either us, we wouldn’t be good at constantly keeping track of what we’ve spent so far and how much we have left to spend. But using our system and paying attention to trends in our spending we’re able to do most things we want to and still put aside a good amount. Of course having a kid is probably going to change all this, but we’ll figure that out when it’s time.
*We charge almost everything, which I know can be dangerous. We pay off the bill completely at the beginning of each month though. So we have no interest on it and get points like woah!