Couples fight about money. There are numerous studies and surveys showing money is the #1 cause of divorce in America. Even if your money arguments don’t lead to divorce, it can cause stress in your relationship. Just bringing up the subject of money can immediately put one or both of you on the defense. What do you do when you and your spouse don’t agree on spending, saving or investing?
Revisit the Past
Start thinking about your financial future by going back to your past. How did your parents handle money? How did that impact your attitude and behaviors? Have you made any financial decisions you regret? What decisions are you proud of? What is most important to you when it comes to budgeting? What are your future goals? Have past money talks with your spouse put you off the process? Both you and your partner should carefully consider these questions separately, and write out your answers.
Make a Date
Now is the time to share these thoughts with your partner. You need to have a real, honest conversation about money. Schedule a date night away from home, children, and other distractions. Discuss your answers, and really listen to one another. In many relationships, one person is traditionally the spender, while the other is the saver. Ask questions about your partner’s goals so you can understand where they’re coming from.
Put a Plan Together
Hopefully, now you each have a better understanding of where you’ve been, and where you want to go with money. What is your common ground? Can you come up with 3-5 big goals you agree on? Use words like “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “you.”
Marriage is a partnership, and working together will help you achieve your goals.
Next, set some smaller goals in the form of a monthly budget. Create a realistic budget together and plan for every expense you may incur. It’s important to remember this is a working document. It could change throughout the month as things come up. Your child may get invited to a birthday party that requires a gift or your car could break down which would require a costly repair. There will be things you can’t budget for, but you can have a framework in place to handle them.
Celebrate Wins, Talk Through Mistakes
As you start to live within the new budget, recognize areas where you’re improving. Share them with your spouse and celebrate the wins! On the other side, you may make some mistakes along the way. Your spouse could overspend in one category. Don’t make accusations, and don’t let anger or frustration interrupt the positive path you’re on. Explore why those mistakes happened. Were you unrealistic in your expectations when setting up the budget? Saying you’ll spend $500 on groceries for the month may have sounded good at first, but when actually put into practice, that number was closer to $600. Remember, it’s a working document that needs to be flexible while you work some of these issues out.
Better Conversations, Better Marriage
Being on the same page as your partner and working together towards your common financial goals can lead to a better marriage. It’s natural that one of you may take the lead on money issues, but both of you need to be part of the process. Talk through financial decisions (feel free to contact us to get started), set goals, and work with each other to make your money work for you.