When I was single I knew I wanted a spouse who was wise with money. In fact, there it was on my husband wishlist: “FRUGAL”. (But what it really meant was, “I hope he’ll go to thrift shops with me and not be embarrassed.”) I’ll admit, I was a little ignorant as to what I was really looking for in this area. But how was I to know what a “frugal” husband really looked like?

Of course, I don’t claim to know everything on the topic today. But after 4 years of being married to Mr. Crumb Saver and doing a lot of thinking and observing about saving money, I do understand much better how this theoretical line item on my “husband requirement” list now plays out in the grind of everyday life. Here’s what my experience has taught me.

1. He Needs to Wear Deodorant

Al wears Old Spice and I’ll admit, the alluring scent did encourage me to find an excuse to borrow his sweaters whenever possible while we were dating. But we’re not talking about the enticing fragrance of masculine deodorant here, we’re talking about the stinky offensive order that necessitates it!

Yes, and that is the first sign that you have found a financially beneficial prospect. He is willing to toil, grunt, and suffer amid dirt, sweat, and possibly blood and tears likely causing unpleasant mansmells. Yes, this is a man who shoulders his share of the family burdens, brings home the cash from working tirelessly at a job, and will save you money each time his own hard work is replacing having to hire someone else. Sure, he may come home a little sweaty, but nothing a good lathering of Old Spice can’t cover up!

A Few Clues:

  • Helps his mom wash dishes after supper without being asked…instead of…sneaking away from the dinner table hoping someone else will clean up.
  • Did his share of chores around the house growing up…instead of…letting his parents vacuum his room while he played video games laying on his bed.
  • Would prefer getting covered in grass clippings and soaked in sweat mowing the lawn…instead of…paying a professional lawn service to do it so his Nike Airs don’t get grass stains.
  • Expects his wife and children to work just as hard in their respective roles/abilities…instead of…spoiling them into being lazy and expecting a cush life.
  • Uses down time constructively reading blogs on personal finance (like this one, of course) or checking out YouTube videos on gardening…instead of…mindlessly watching TV sitcoms or spending hours on PlayStation.

2. He Learns to Count His Beans

You might think this next point on beans is logical especially after the topic of our previous discussion. But don’t worry, this post is not headed in the direction of odors. Nor is it about counting out jelly beans or sorting through dried pinto beans. Beans in this instance refer to much more important things such as savings accounts, utility bills, budget worksheets, and investment plans. And a financially astute husband will take interest and initiative in counting the cost in these areas.

Now, don’t think your man has to be an accountant, professional financial analyst, or stereotypical “bean counter” to be marriage material. But the key word here is LEARNS to count his beans. Al won’t mind telling you that he wasn’t very financially savvy when we got married, but he realized the benefits of assertive money management, did everything he could to learn how investments worked, and put that planning into practice. Marrying a man who is willing to learn and initiate in the financial realm may eventually mean that your savings accounts actually generate interest, you retire with money in the bank, and your everyday decisions move you closer to your financial goals.

A Few Clues:

  • Before making a purchase determines its true necessity, analyzes pro and cons, checks competitive pricing, and scours reviews…instead of…making impulsive purchases which end up too expensive, poor quality, or sitting unused in the closet.
  • Seeks to learn in the realm of financial stewardship, including  investment optionsinstead of…putting all the savings into a 0.01% interest savings account with no plans of saving for retirement.
  • Has his finger on the pulse of the home’s financial health…instead of…letting his wife pay the bills while he happily generates more, oblivious of their accumulating debt.*
  • Has lived on his own, had to earn his own income, and pay his own bills…instead of…being supported all his life by mom and dad (who also make his bed, cook his meals, and fill the gas in his car).

*Of course, some women wear the financial pants in the family, but both still need to be aware of the family’s financial status.

3. He Adores Pigs

We actually don’t eat bacon, sausage, or pepperoni, and we think pigs are a bit gross in general, but we do love them in a certain way: We love to feed our pig! In fact, we love to watch him grow fatter and fatter, although he’s still a bit lean at this point. Our figurative “pig” of course is our savings.

Can you imagine if you found someone who found more satisfaction and fulfillment in dropping coins into the piggy bank than spending them? Frugality would became a natural part of life! Imagine how much money you would save in every area of your budget, what a relief it would be to have fewer financial arguments, and the sweetness it would bring to marriage to find joy in similar values.

A Few Clues:

  • Loves a birthday gift even more if it was purchased 75% off…instead of…feeling offended he didn’t get a full price gift from Banana Republic.
  • Thinks “What is the least amount I can spend this month”…instead of…”There’s still $50 in the budget. Hooray, let’s go shopping!”
  • Lets his wife cut his hair even though she once snipped his ear…instead of…insisting on paying to go to a professional salon so he can get the shampoo head massage.
  • Is diligent in taking care of his and other people’s things…instead of…being careless and then constantly having to replace or fix them.
  • If he goes out to eat, orders just an entree…instead of….also ordering an expensive drink, appetizer, and dessert.

4. Your Half Full Glass Will Completely Fill His

There is something to being content. Satisfied with the simple and modest things of life. Happy even when you have seemingly less than others around you. This is the last but perhaps most important trait to find in a husband who will end up being a financially wise choice.

I don’t think I need to expound too much on this, as most of you know from experience (yours or observing someone else’s) how living a content life comes with a lower price tag. But also remember that just because you are satisfied with less, does not necessarily mean that you will live at the bottom of the barrel. In our experience, God rewards a life of simple unselfishness and generosity in ways we never expect, but in just the ways that bring us the most joy.

A Few Clues:

  • Happily chows down on leftovers, commenting “This tastes even better than yesterday, or the 4 other times we ate it this week!”…instead of…insisting on new food every meal while leftovers spoil in the fridge.
  • Enjoys hikes in the woods and searching for starfish in the tide pools…instead of…thinking $65 tickets to Sea World is the only way to appreciate nature.
  • Finds joy in church ministry projects and relaxation working in the garden…instead of…being bored with anything but Las Vegas weekend vacations.
  • Wears his clothes until they can barely be used as car wash rags…instead of…replacing his wardrobe with each temporary fad.
  • Gives unselfishly and generously to God, his church, and others…instead of…hoarding what he thinks he has earned.

Finding Mr. Crumb Saver

It might not seem very romantic to consider these attributes in a man when you’re busy getting goosebumps over the flowers he sends to your work or falling in love with the way he casts his eyes at you. But as you search for your Mr. Crumb Saver, don’t forget to add these very important traits to your husband wish list. Believe me, you will not regret it when he becomes the best financial decision you ever made!

What do you think? Do you believe in these traits? What do they “look like” in your family (or if you’re single, what would you like them to look like in your future family)? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.

(Don’t worry men, Al will make sure the women aren’t let off the hook too easily either!  Stay tuned for his next post!)