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Hot Tips For Sexually Confident Wives #52

Get Financial Peace- Part 2

continued…

As mentioned in the last Hot Tip, a difficult season in marriage was in 2008. At the time, my husband was a stay at home dad because I had grown so busy with all of the writing and speaking I’d been doing that we wanted to make sure at least one of us was available to our two children whenever needed. We both volunteered for this “role reversal,” but this meant I was feeling the burden of responsibility of being the sole breadwinner, at least temporarily. And boy, did I develop a new appreciation for men who carry that burden their whole lives just so their wives can stay home with the children! If you’re one of those women, GO HUG YOUR MAN RIGHT NOW!!!

When the economy went sour in 2008, most authors’ book sales went sour with it. Books are like Starbuck’s lattes… they’re an optional purchase that get carved out of the budget when folks have to tighten their belts. (and yes, Starbuck’s stock plummeted that year as well.)

So my income dropped by 50% from one royalty check to the other, and then six months later when the next check came it dropped by another 50%. If I told you that I’m going to cut your salary in HALF within six months, and then in HALF AGAIN in the next six months, you’d probably look for another job, huh?But this ministry is my baby, so that wasn’t an option.

So we had to learn to drastically tighten our financial belts as well… and as a result, our sexual belts received some much-needed slack. Once we got a black-and-white game plan going strong, we were able to relax, exhale, and not spend our evening hours bickering over finances or worrying how we were going to manage. We were able to focus on loving and pleasuring each other again, which is what those bedtime hours are supposed to be all about!

In addition to cutting up our credit cards and establishing a “cash only” system for all purchases as I mentioned in the last Hot Tip, we also took Dave Ramsey’s advice and followed the first three baby steps of his “Seven Tip Plan for Financial Peace.”

First, we established a dedicated Emergency Fund, which is baby step #1. No more panicking when a car broke down or a refrigerator died. Some household expenses simply can’t be avoided, and to have to put stuff like that on a credit card and wonder how/when you’ll be able to pay that off created far more stress on the budget (and us) than necessary. We began with the minimum $1,000, and let it grow from there until we accumulated the 3-6 months of living expenses that Dave recommends in baby step #3. Now we can absorb expensive household emergencies with nothing more than a shrug and an “Oh, well. That’s life!” 

Baby step #2 was to pay off ALL debt except our house. This wasn’t too terribly difficult for us because we never let credit card balances build up anyway, and we don’t mind driving moderate vehicles that we pay cash for so as to avoid car payments altogether. Our most recent car purchase earlier this year was a very nice 2004 Honda Accord with 120,000 miles (just getting broken in for a Honda) that we found for $11,000. Do you know how fantastic it feels to be able to write a check for a car and drive it off the lot with NO car payment looming over you? My daughter had a similar experience this same year when a woman hit her and totaled her Scion. As she shopped for a replacement car, she was very determined NOT to spend more than the insurance company check she had in her hand, and after some shrewd negotiations she drove a 2005 Jetta off the lot for $10,000 cash and NO additional payments. That kind of financial freedom is absolutely priceless!

I guess to really understand the value of paying cash vs. carrying a loan on something, you have to understand interest rates. If you were to buy a $15,000 car with cash, you’d pay $15,000. But to finance that car for 4 years at 10% interest, your payments would be $380.44. Multiply that monthly payment times 48 months, and now you paid $18,261.12 for that car! Another scenario is what we do to ourselves when we go on a credit card shopping spree. Let’s say you charge $1,000 of clothes or household items to your credit card, and make a payment of $36.15 each month. Not only will it take you 3 years to pay that off, you’ll have paid 30% more for the merchandise considering the standard 18% interest rate most credit card companies charge. In fact, most companies require you only to pay such a LOW monthly payment, that you wind up accumulating interest faster than you reduce your balance, so you just keep getting deeper and deeper in debt, without even buying anything else at all!

So do yourself and your marriage a BIG favor! Cut those credit cards up, begin paying off all of your balances, establish a budget and a “cash only” system, and begin to SAVE rather than SPEND! Create some wiggle room in your life so that you can spend far less energy worrying about money, and spend far more energy investing in each other!

Wishing you tremendous financial peace,
Shannon

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Excerpted from The Sexually Confident Wife: Connecting with Your Husband Mind*Body*Heart*Spirit by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2008.  All Rights Reserved. Published by Random House Inc, New York, NY. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval. 

Hot Tips For Sexually Confident Wives #51

Get Financial Peace

In previous Hot Tips I’ve talked about buying what makes you feel sexy (in reference to lingerie and most recently a pair of Target sandals that I affectionately call my “Heidi Klum shoes”). While it doesn’t hurt to spend a little money on yourself on occasion, and investing in your sexual relationship can reap tons of long-term interest in your marriage. Today I want to take you in the opposite direction – toward saving instead of spending!You might wonder, “What’s that got to do with sexual confidence?”

When I think back to the most sexually “dry” spell in marriage, I was surprised at what I realized. It wasn’t when we had little babies waking us up for feedings throughout the night… it wasn’t when I was going through six months of intense counseling to get to the root causes of so many of my issues… it was in 2008-2009 when the bottom dropped out of the economy and reeked havoc on many marriages, including mine.I remember waiting until bedtime after the kids were out of earshot to begin asking questions of my husband, trying to develop survival strategies after he had no more fuel left in his mental gas tank. What did this do to our libido? It killed it completely. What did this do to our sleep? Threw a wrench into it. (Suggestion #1 – Talk about financial matters long before bedtime! The bedroom is for sex & sleep, not stress!)What did all of this do to our marriage? Made it rocky for a while, until we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course at our church, which allowed us to transition from “stress” to “strength.”

Since the economic crisis continues to loom large, my guess is that a lack of financial peace is still negatively affecting many couples’ marriages, including their marriage bed. So in the next few Hot Tips I want to share with you some of the things we did – some small, some BIG – to turn our financial picture around and bring peace back into our lives, marriage, and bedroom.

The first big adjustment we made is that we drastically changed the way we made all purchases. We used to put everything on a credit card because we liked getting frequent flyer miles for every dollar spent, and it allowed us to easily track every place our money went. However, we learned that there’s a dangerous mentality to swiping that credit card at every checkout stand, a mentality that says, “I’m not having to pay for this now… I’ll be able to pay for it later.” Which usually means you spend more. LOTS more. So even if you’re paying the balance off every month to avoid interest charges, you’re still spending more than you really need to.But when you’re handing over hard cold cash, there’s more of a feeling of “stinginess.” We don’t want to let go of cash so easily. So we limit our purchases to the absolute necessities, allowing us to hold on to more of our cash. And this is a GREAT mentality to have!

So we got rid of every credit card except one that we use for business expenses, and one that we use for emergencies only. I purchased a special wallet that had an “envelope system” (available at www.daveramsey.com, or just make your own!) which allows you to set certain amounts of cash aside for certain monthly purchases. We sat down and established a set budget for things like groceries, clothing, dining out, household expenses, kids’ allowances, gifts, etc. At the beginning of every month, we’d take out ONLY as much cash as needed to replenish those envelopes.
The most important rule was: Once that money is gone, we stop spending! If we ran out of “dining out” money before the end of the month, we didn’t eat out until the following month. If we ran out of “grocery” money before the end of the month, I either had to borrow it from one of the other envelopes (like the “clothing” envelope) or I’d have to rummage through the deep freeze to put meals together (which I needed to do more often anyway).

Even taking just this first baby step brought tons of relief to our relationship. And in the coming Hot Tips, I’ll tell you how I’ve gone from just “relief” to “REJOICING”. So stay tuned…

Wishing YOU financial peace as well,
Shannon

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