It goes without saying that money can be a point of stress and conflict in marriage.
The statistics speak for themselves and are quite staggering. The number of people in marriages that have secret bank accounts or credit cards that their spouse does not know about, who have spent large sums of money without disclosing to their spouses and the number of marriage ending in divorce due to unresolvable issues regarding finances is alarming.
So when money is on the table, literally, and the tension grows, take a deep breath, remember that you are on the same team and look beyond the money on the table.
Try to see your spouse and what they are feeling or fearing.
Understand that they way they see and approach money is based upon what they value and may very closely be tied to the environment in which they were raised concerning money.
Be understanding of the things in which they place value that you do not, keep your lines of communication open about money and remember that your marriage is always more important than money.
Below are a few guidelines for approaching money in your marriage plus some resources.
1. Share financial information
Open communication is the first and most crucial step in financial health and success within your marriage.
Be up front and honest about the financial situation you are coming into marriage with. If you we're not 100% transparent when you said 'I do' take the opportunity now and talk straight with your spouse.
Share any debt of financial pitfalls you have found yourself in, share your dreams and financial goals, share your financial strengths and weaknesses and share other info (account details, expected expenses, monthly bill etc.) that the other will need to be privy to as you build your life together.
2. Have a budget.
This is a good boundary to set, it provides safety, openness and accountability. Be kind to yourselves and to one another, if you’ve never really been a budgeter before or they have never been a budgeter, it will feel foreign and honestly quite terrible at first. But having a budget down on paper will give you so much more peace, freedom and security in the long run.
3. Have a ‘his & hers’ spending money.
Have a certain amount set aside every month that is his money and her money to be spent with zero guilt.
Whether its clothes, getting your nails done, cocktails with friends, this is your money to do with as you would like, you do not have to justify why you spent it, they can’t get mad at you for the way you spend it. It’s your.
And likewise for them, it’s their money, you don't get to say what they should or shouldn't do with it.
This enables you both to have a little bit a fun money to spend guilt free that you don’t feel the need to talk to the other about before spending.
4. For non-budgeted purchases, set a dollar amount & if the item is over that amount, agree to run it by one another first.
For us, $50 is our limit. If one of us is going to buy something over $50 that is not budgeted, we talk about it first.
Last year we bought a new TV which is obviously not something that we budget for monthly or even yearly. This was a purchase that we discussed before making and decided together what we would spend.
Having a set dollar amount not only helps eliminate potential conflicts, especially if one in the marriage is a spend and the other is a saver but it also helps eliminate impulsive purchases and holds you accountable to each other and your spending.
5. Set quarterly savings goals
Savings can be really overwhelming to navigate when you list all the things you are saving for. Setting quarterly savings goals will help break it down and make it simpler and attainable.
If you’re working your way out of debt, set some goals of what you plan to pay off in 3 months. It you’re hoping to buy a house soon, make a 3 month goal of what you want to have saved up for a down payment. Want to go on that Europe trip you’ve always dreamed about? Set a 3 month goal and save.
Short term goals help you gain momentum and see the progress you are making. While you may not be out of debt, have a down payment or have all the funds you need for that trip, you will have a great start and that little bit of momentum will carry you far.
Favorite Money Resources
Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey is a fantastic curriculum to go through as a couple to educate you and guide you in all aspects of finances. You can order the curriculum online to work through together of you can attend in a group setting which is typically hosted by churches.