4 Essential Money Habits for a Happy Marriage
You know the story. It’s probably very similar to your own. You met, fell in love and nothing else mattered or could stand in your way…at least until that thing called “money” happened.
Money woes have been ruining marriages and families for far too long and its time to do something about it. We can no longer stand by and allow so many of us who made the promise to love and cherish, for richer and for poor, in sickness and in health, till death do us apart, be torn apart by money! Especially since it’s an issue that can be solved.
A few years ago the University of Virginia released some very interesting findings in their “Marriage and Money” report:
· They confirmed that rising consumer debt after couple’s wedding contributed to the instability of the union.
· Couples who reported disagreeing about finances more than once a week were 30 percent more likely to divorce than couples who reported disagreeing about finances only a few times a month.
It’s unfortunate that so many couples decide to join their lives without joining their bank accounts. While planning to buy their first home and start their family, they ignore the opportunity to build a common foundation about how to spend, save and give their money
But there is good news here. As damaging as the money issues can be, they can be both prevented as well as corrected. Below are five simple steps that any couple, whether engaged and just starting out their life together or one that is already ways down the road, can take in order to gain strong financial footing while at the same time strengthening their relationship.
1. Give every dollar a job!
Someone once said: If you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll always wonder where it went.
Creating a doable budget or spending plan does not have to be boring. Today, technology offers many great online budgeting solutions to help you and your spouse not only track every single penny but also plan on how you will spend it. Find a solution that fits your needs and use it to plan for your day-to-day expenses as well as for your future financial hopes and dreams. And remember this quick principle: budget will tell you what you can’t afford BUT unfortunately it won’t stop you from buying it. After you and your spouse agree on a budget, saying NO to overspending will be crucial to your success.
2. STOP the power play – START talking!
Money has been a taboo subject among couples for way too long. According to a poll by USA TODAY, nearly two-thirds of married couples talk little or nothing about money before they say, “I do.” It’s time to break the silence and start talking. Set aside one night a month for your “money talk.” Go to one of your favorite restaurants or grab a cup of coffee at your favorite bakery and simply talk. Too often couples use money to assert relational power. Issues like “I earn more than you do” or “I brought more resources into this marriage than you did” are used to make the situation worse. You are ONE now, so start looking at finances not from his / her perspective, but as ours! Be solution oriented rather than pointing fingers and playing the “blame game”. Start small, one issue at a time. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so have patience!
3. Discover your “money personalities”
We all have a “financial personality” and knowing each other’s money tendencies will help you succeed in the financial arena of life. Most likely one of you is a spender while the other one has a tendency to save (or maybe even hoard.) Forget the traditional roles regarding who should handle money at home. Usually the one who has a “saver “profile should manage your family’s budget. Build a spending plan together, agree on how much you’ll allocate to each category, and let the saver keep you accountable for sticking to the plan! Think of creative ways to reward the spender for sticking to his or her allowance each month. If you have a hoarder on your hands, come up with ways to help him or her learn the joy of giving.
4. Eliminate your DEBT- Start SAVING!
Saving is often overlooked and sacrificed in the name of paying down debt. By having that ”rainy day fund” set aside, next time the car breaks or the roof leaks.
Make a list of small, doable goals. Start with saving $1000 as an emergency fund and then keep going until you reach 3-6 months of living expenses. If you have a hard time leaving that saved money alone, talk to your bank about putting restrictions on your savings account not to allow withdrawals. Set saving goals together and don’t forget to celebrate every accomplished milestone.
“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
If you want to different financial results, you need to be prepared to think differently than you have in the past. You also have to behave differently.
Your marriage and your family are worth fighting for, so don’t let money issues become the cause of your relational breakdown. Take it one step at a time. Start changing your financial behaviors one by one. Be patient and with time you will see that it was all worth it!