Do We Really Need To Talk About Finances?
My wife and I have pretty similar styles of handling our finances and so we don't talk about our money often. Is that a problem? Why should we talk about money if there doesn't seem to be an issue?
That is a good question.
One of the best investments you can make in your marriage is communicating openly and frequently about your finances together. According to a recent survey done by the Institute of Divorce Financial Analysts, 22% of marriages end in divorce due to the stress and anxiety related to money. Finances affect our daily life, the choices we make, and ultimately shape our future. In marriage, you have two competing histories with money that need to be reconciled before you can successfully manage your finances in a healthy way. You have the past and current spending habits that need to be addressed individually. This creates a potential for all kinds of conflict if a couple is not on the same page when it comes to their financial habits and goals. It is imperative to make discussing money a normal, daily part of your life as a married couple in order to attain any financial goals and foster the feeling of teamwork rather than allowing money to become a divisive and destructive topic.
It is imperative to make discussing money a normal, daily part of your life as a married couple in order to attain any financial goals and foster the feeling of teamwork rather than allowing money to become a divisive and destructive topic.
A good place to start is by discussing each of your backgrounds on money including the environment that you grew up in. Was money tight? Were you taught to save or spend money? Did your parents follow a budget and were you aware of this? You and your spouse need to take a look at the past and really dive into how your parents’ habits, knowingly or unknowingly, affected your viewpoint of money to this very day. Next, you can discuss your personal spending habits before getting married. Were you a spender or a saver? What debt or savings did you bring into the marriage? What is your attitude toward money? Toward giving? Once you both have a clear view of the history of your spouse, it will give you a better idea of where they are coming from and where they would like to go. Finally, you need to discuss what your goals are together as a married couple and where you see yourselves ten, twenty, thirty years from now. We have different needs as a couple than when we were single and no matter where we are at in our journey, one of the highest financial priorities to start with is a budget.
We have different needs as a couple than when we were single and no matter where we are at in our journey, one of the highest financial priorities to start with is a budget.
A common misconception that people have when they hear the word budget is that a budget restricts you from being able to do what you want with your money. The truth of the matter is that a budget offers you freedom from being a slave to money and gives you control over where your money goes and how it is spent. With a budget, you don’t have to look in your account every month and wonder where all your hard-earned money went. You already know that all the bills are taken care of and any money left over is going towards meeting your goals. Just as every successful business has a CEO, you and your spouse need to become the CEO’s of your finances and run it like a business. This includes active participation from both parties regardless if one person primarily does the budget. This is where marriage decisions come into play.
Making financial decisions together will naturally cause differences of opinion. In lieu of thinking that this requires a lot of compromising, it is good to think of it as making a marriage decision. This means each person brings their own thoughts and ideas to the table and work together to create solutions to help solve the problem or reach the next goal. An example of this would be that a couple who needs to pay off some debt may decide to sell some items in order to do so. The wife may have one idea of an item to sell, while the husband might have another. They then decide together which item would be the most beneficial to sell and help contribute towards decreasing their debt together and then follow through with that decision. They made the decision together and can now celebrate that they are closer to paying off that debt!
Making financial decisions together...means each person brings their own thoughts and ideas to the table and work together to create solutions to help solve the problem...
One thing to understand about budgeting though is that it requires weekly if not daily attention. This requires a continuous conversation that can become a normal part of your daily routine. It means holding each other accountable to spending within the limits you’ve set for each other. It means reevaluating and reworking the budget when things aren’t panning out how you expected. What this allows is free, open conversation about finances in your marriage that will lead to financial freedom! Freedom to spend what you have designated in each category. It creates clear expectations and a path to help lead you to your goals as a married couple. We are to honor God in all we do. What better way to strengthen our marriage then to equip ourselves with a budget and start managing our money together today? A few of the best tools out there to help you create a budget for free that I recommend is Every Dollar, Mint, Tiller Money and Personal Capital.
Phillip Rosheim is an accountant with Amazon Studios, a division of Amazon.com. He has been married to Lauren for seven years and together they have a four-year-old daughter and one-year-old son. The Rosheim Family lives in Southern California.