Throughout our whole marriage, my wife and I have been in agreement with how we handle our finances. I am thankful for this, and I know quite a few couples who are not on the same page. I used to be more of a spender than my wife was, but now we are both savers. We spend money when we want to, but we are intentional with our money, and we are on the same page. Money fights are one of the leading causes of divorce.
“Ours” not “Mine/Yours”
Some of those money fights are because of a lack of communication around money. The money is not yours. The debt isn’t theirs, either. You and your spouse are in this together. Make sure you are using the words “our” and “ours”. It’s our money. The debt is ours. This will make you realize that you both own the debt whether you brought it into the marriage or not, and you aren’t the only one who owns the money whether you are the breadwinner or not.
People fall into two groups: some are savers, and some are spenders. You need to recognize that being the spender or the saver is not bad. They are just different. They both bring something valuable into the marriage. In most cases, the spender needs to reign in their spending, and in some cases, the saver needs to loosen their grip on the money.
As you’re working through the steps to build wealth, you and your spouse will need to make some decisions together. Some of the decisions will not be easy, and one person in the marriage should not be making all the financial decisions. This isn’t teamwork. During the first three steps for building wealth, you will never get out of debt and never have an emergency fund saved if you keep spending all your money. During the wealth-building steps (saving for retirement, saving for college, paying off your mortgage), you can determine how many years you want to take to reach financial independence and save that money accordingly. Your spending habits can and will change as you go from debt to building wealth, but you both need to be on the same page. If you and your spouse cannot get on the same page with your finances, then you will have a hard time building wealth.
Security and Scorecard
In many relationships, the husband and the wife are not on the same page. The money fights stem from a lack of communication and a lack of serving the other person. How do you get on the same page? You need to recognize that women and men are different when it comes to money. For the most part, women view money as a security, and men view money as a scorecard. This isn’t the case in all situations. If the security or the scorecard expectation is not met, it causes stress for that person. In order to have enough money for security or have enough money for the scorecard, both people need to save money. In some cases, both men and women think the nicer the vehicles or the larger the house or the more experiences they can have gives them the bigger scorecard. The vehicle, is not an asset that appreciates in value, and the experiences do not hold any monetary value, so why do people keep spending their money on these if they are wanting security or a monetary scorecard? The only way to build wealth is to save money. Consequently, both people in a relationship need to learn how to save money. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun. You just need to determine how long you are willing to put off a few things so you can reach financial independence and then have more time and money to do the things you enjoy doing. You can have your security and your scorecard and lots more!
Have Goals Together
After you recognize men and women have different needs, then you need to have goals that you want to reach together. Sit down with each other and have a dream meeting—communicate with each other the things you want to do when you’re retired. Once you can agree on a list of goals, then you need to determine and develop a plan so you can reach those goals. You are in a committed relationship together, so you both need to give and take. Compromise. In a committed relationship, you also want to desire what the other person wants.
Be an Example and Forgive
If your spouse has no desire to change the bad financial situation that you both are in, you need to let them know that you both are not reaching the financial goals that you have. If your spouse is not on board and is spending money that is causing you to not reach your financial goals, then you need to show them on paper where you will be in 10 years or 20 years if you keep on the same path. Be open and communicate your desires to them, but also lead by example. Don’t try to outspend your financially out of control spouse. That doesn’t give them an example to follow. In some cases, you need to see your pastor or a marriage counselor. Remember, both of you are in the marriage to serve each other and not yourself.
In almost all marriages, both the husband and the wife have both done something financially stupid, whether in the marriage or before they were married. Both of you need to decide that is not how you want to live the rest of your lives together. You want to get out of debt, save an emergency fund, and build wealth together. You have to know what your goals are together, and then work together to achieve those goals.
The good news is that money does not have to cause financial stress in a marriage. It’s probably not the finances, anyway, but it’s the selfishness that comes from each individual having their own goals in mind and not the goals of the other person in mind. Have that dream meeting, and then determine what you need to do to reach your goals. Don’t be lazy when it comes to your finances, either. Work together when creating your budget. It can be awesome when you work with your spouse.