Love's Financial Lessons

John Gardner is a commercial banker with BB&T in Wilmington and recently became engaged.

Overdrafts? Minimum credit card payments? You bought what?  I am insanely in love with my fiancée, but when it comes to our financial philosophies the previous questions are typically where our disagreements begin.

I am a banker and by nature fiscally conservative, anal about checking my bank accounts, and find some sick enjoyment out of saving ninety-nine cents when ordering a free cup of water and “stealing” Sprite.

She is a nurse practitioner, a true shopaholic, frequent overdrafter, and a firm believer in retail therapy.

During our wedding counseling we were challenged to read The Hard Questions by Susan Piver (highly recommend). The topic of finances smacked us in the face and made us realize how different we actually are when dealing with money.

She elects avoidance, and I choose obsession over penny counting. The truth is there is a happy medium between our two extremes that we will have to work to find.

Below are two best practices from my penny pincher perspective in hopes that my fiancée and any others with similar spending habits will read and perhaps implement to save your coupon cutting partner from going off the deep end.

Manage and check your statements daily – A female version of Casper the ghost: that is the look of my fiancée the day the credit card bill arrives each month. Maybe you are the same way?

She has no idea what she spent the previous month and opening this innocent white envelope is essentially like peeling back a recently healed scab to uncover the spending damages.

A quick fix is to check and manage your credit cards and bank accounts daily. Don’t wait until the end of the month only to realize that you can barely afford the minimum payments.

This will force you to analyze your daily cash balances compared to what you owe and hopefully keep you from overspending. Credit cards are excellent tools in managing cash flow and will reward you with air miles, cash back, etc., but they can also bring you down quickly if you get stuck paying 15-20 percent interest on carrying balances.


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