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Debt-Free Living

The One Word That Will Change Your Financial Future

No. It’s one of the most important words in the English language. Why? Because it can stop you from making some really bad decisions with money.

When Winston and I first got married, there were things we wanted to buy as we started life together. But we quickly learned how important it was to say no to some spending decisions. Whether you’re a newlywed or a marriage veteran, you’re going to feel the pressure to buy something you can’t afford at some point.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison and feel the need to keep up with the Joneses. But the Joneses are broke.

Sometimes, you have to say no today so you can say yes tomorrow. Here are some examples:

The Dream House

Too many newlyweds want to live like their parents right away—in a big house with a nice lawn—but it took their parents decades to reach that level of success. I don’t recommend taking out a mortgage until you’re married for a year.

Rent, get settled in your job situation, make sure you’re comfortable with your city, then you can consider a mortgage if you’re out of debt. When you do reach that point, keep your expectations in check. Moving into your dream house probably isn’t going to happen . . . yet.

The Fancy Car

What if you could own a new BMW or Audi outright—with no monthly payments? Well, you can! But you probably can’t right now! In your early years of marriage, I want you to drive a nice, reliable car that gets you around.

Over time, as your other money goals fall into place, the fancier cars might become more reasonable. But now isn’t the time. Don’t worry about the Joneses and their new Lexus. Pay off debt and save for emergencies and a nice down payment on a house. Stay focused on your needs over your wants.

The Shiniest Phones and TVs

If you can afford a smartphone plan, then go for it. But just because you can afford the phone, that doesn’t mean you need to cough up hundreds of dollars for every version of every phone that hits the market.

The same goes for televisions and other fancy gadgets. Keep it simple for a while. Then, once you’re hitting your financial goals, by all means, mount that 70-inch LCD on the man-cave wall.

All the Restaurants

All your friends are going out to eat five days a week, so why can’t you? Do the math! You can’t spend hundreds of dollars a week on restaurants then wonder why you aren’t saving more for a down payment on your mortgage.

Look, I’m not saying you have to avoid eating out altogether. I’m just saying to be smart about your dining choices, and don’t say yes every time you get asked. By saying no to eating out, you’ll be saying yes to so many other more important parts of your money plan!

Travel, Travel, Travel

When you get married, it seems like everyone wants to see the new couple. But all those everyones—usually your families—might live hundreds, even thousands, of miles away.

Don’t let family guilt you into making bad money decisions. Never go in debt to travel. Once you have kids, you’ll feel even more pressure to travel. Feel free to say no and, better yet, let family come to you!

You can reach all your money goals early in marriage. All it takes is some patience, discipline and a little weirdness. You see, going into debt is normal, so I want you to be weird.

Sometimes, saying no is the absolute right thing to do.

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  • Lori

    Great advice! My husband and I followed these tips and now we own our home, have no car payments, own our own business and invest in rental homes. We have been married 25 years and we look forward to the future, we don’t dread it. ud83dude0a

  • Christine

    Great advice! It is SO hard to not go on a buying-spree, after doing the wedding gift registry, getting married, moving in to a new place, getting that new job with better pay… you simply MUST have bigger goals in mind with your S.O. or you’ll only be treading water (like everyone else). A vision for your future will get you through it and remind you WHY you’re saying no to things.

    We’ve lived an unusual life of old cars, fixer-upper homes, odd job situations, and now we own our little horse farm and have choices in life – chiefly, for what to do with our time. It is so worth it!