Married? This one is for you. And it’s an important one, too.
What happens when you find yourself married to someone who had a different financial upbringing than you did?
It’s easy to assume that the one you love is just like you, having had the same life experiences. But you and I both know that isn’t the case.
We were no exception.
We quickly found out that we had different upbringings. Mark was raised in a family that was always very frugal and wise with money. I grew up thinking I was wealthy.
When we first started grocery shopping together, it became apparent that we had some work to do. I would buy what I wanted, and my husband was much more conservative.
That doesn’t mean he was perfect because together accumulated over $40,000 in credit card and student loan debt. We both needed some work!
Completely overwhelmed, we finally realized we couldn’t live that way anymore. One chapter in my book The Recovering Spender is about how being broke saved my marriage.
So, we started taking some steps to turn things around. And that, we did!
We learned some difficult lessons, and boy do we wish we had learned these critical financial tips all those years ago. Let’s talk about these critical tips that every married couple needs to talk about – here are the 4 more critical ones:
I can’t stress enough the importance of starting a budget together.
Most married couples, when faced with the prospect of budgeting, become a little scared. But the truth is, the budget isn’t as much restrictive as it freeing. Yes, budgets free you in so many ways.
Instead of having an argument over whether or not to buy a bag of chips (we’ve been there), make sure to decide together if snack foods should be in the budget. That way, when you get to the grocery store, you don’t have to have an argument in public (no fun).
Remember, budgets don’t just tell you what you can’t spend money on, they tell you what you can spend money on.
Credit cards have the real ability to get you in trouble. The pursuit of more stuff can get you in trouble, too.
If you want to get out of debt together, you’re going to have to pledge to not go into any more debt. It’s true that you might slip here or there, but keep at it. Get rid of your array of credit cards and start spending physical cash where you’re able.
Over time, with your budget in hand, you’ll start finding ways to save money and pay down debt.
There’s a tendency for couples to become quiet about long-lasting money issues.
It’s sometimes easier to sweep our concerns about the finances under the rug and move on with our day.
But will that solve the problem? Absolutely not!
We had to learn how to communicate about money. And believe me, the more communication, the better.
The bulk of our communication about money occurs during our monthly budget night. But that doesn’t mean the communication ends there.
For example, if there’s a particular budget category we’re both spending from, we need to be in close communication about that category to ensure we don’t overspend. Think about it. If I’m at one store and Mark is at another, we could easily overspend our shared budget category because we may not know what the other is purchasing.
That’s why you need to consistently communicate together about money.
Clear and consistent communication fosters closeness and trust. Don’t neglect this important tip.
When we finally got sick and tired of being in debt and living beyond our means, we started focusing on our goals.
We knew we wanted to pay off debt and start spending less than we were taking in. We knew we wanted to be at peace with our money! And once we accomplished those goals together, we had the momentum to continue to live debt-free lives and stick with our budget.
What are a few of your financial goals?
Sit down with your spouse and talk about your future. Where do you want to be in 10 years, 15 years, or 20 years?
Sure, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the future. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan. Here are a few goals you might like to accomplish:
Remember, the financial principles you put in place should exist to serve your life goals. You budget so you can go on those family vacations. You invest so you can retire at a reasonable age. You get the idea!
Don’t forget the purpose of money management: to allow you to buy the things you need, buy some things to enjoy, and to give to those in need.
If you’re wanting to work together with your spouse on the finances, and you don’t think they will be very willing at first, don’t give up. Instead, share the vision about a better life.
Nobody wants to budget because it’s fun to move numbers around on a page, they do it because they believe (and rightly so) that budgeting will allow them to accomplish their life goals.
Talking about money should not be taboo. We need to start the conversation. The conversation where we realize we are not alone. The conversation where we start thinking about our money differently. A conversation that inspires us to take the first step in our journey towards financial confidence.
Tonight, I encourage you to talk with your spouse about these critical financial tips. Which ones are you doing well? Which ones need work? I promise the more you talk about these topics, the easier they become to discuss, and the closer you are to a simpler, happier life.
The reality is that people (couples included) are stressed about money. 240 million Americans, to be exact.