by Rachel Eisen, Director of Annual Giving
No, this is not fundraising pitch. I really just want to talk to you about money. (But if you’re interested…)
My husband, Nate, and I have lived together for almost four years. But until about a year ago, we’d never had a household budget that we followed, tracked, and made sure met all our needs (basic, physical, spiritual, and so on). That’s because we had never really talked about money, either.
Then, in spring of 2017, we participated in Mayyim Hayyim’s Beyond the Huppah: Creating the Jewish Marriage You Want, and found ourselves having our first in-depth conversations about finances.
One of the activities asked us to recall our first memory of money. I remembered a time as a young child on a field trip, getting to the gift shop and not having any money to spend because I hadn’t known to ask my parents. In this activity, it became clear that neither of us really knew yet how to talk to each other about money, for a variety of reasons.
We went on to learn about Jewish perspectives on the value of money and philanthropy, as well as the emotional and relational hurdles to talking about money.
It turned out to be really helpful for us to have that first, deep conversation in the program’s safe environment. Later in 2017, when we decided to join a synagogue, we had a productive conversation about how much to pay in voluntary dues. It wasn’t the easiest conversation, but because it wasn’t the first, we were able to come to a conclusion that we both felt good about.
And now that we’re married and we’ve decided (after another productive conversation) to join some of our finances, we’ve written out a joint budget that we track monthly. The budget allows us to pay our bills and consistently do the things that matter to us—like belong to a synagogue, make donations to organizations we care about, have a regular date night at a nice restaurant, or take a vacation.
Living in this world requires money. And when you’re in an intimate relationship with someone, you’ll have to deal with money as a couple, no matter how you decide to keep your bank accounts. I do believe we should all be more able to talk about money; I also know, from my own experiences, it isn’t always easy.
Thanks to Beyond the Huppah, Nate and I have a foundation on which to have these conversations. And I’m so glad because now we’re starting to feel more secure about being able to live our lives to the fullest (giving ourselves a “Random Adventure Fund” in our budget probably helps, too!).
Are you engaged or recently married? Join us for the next series of Beyond the Huppah beginning April 10! Couples of all backgrounds warmly welcomed, including LGBTQ+ and interfaith couples.
Rachel Eisen is the Director of Annual Giving at Mayyim Hayyim. She lives with her husband, Nate, in Newton. Their most recent purchase filed in “Random Adventure Fund” was concert tickets so they can see one of their favorite musicians perform twice this summer.