It’s no secret that money issues are one of the biggest conflicts for many married couples. In fact, money and money fights are a major cause of divorce.
While life events like job loss can put huge strain on any marriage, most married couples’ money fights can be traced to issues around everyday money habits, such as overspending, debt and budgeting.
In fact, noted financial adviser Dave Ramsey states, “You can’t have a great relationship until you can communicate and agree about money.”
I agree with that wholeheartedly. My husband and I have a strong marriage and we fight very little about money.
We’re not perfect (and neither is our marriage), but I credit our our lack of money fights to three powerful money habits we began from day one of our marriage.
And that’s what I want to share with you in this post.
Friend, if you and your spouse argue regularly over money issues in your marriage, I want to demonstrate how these three simple money truths can truly be revolutionary to your marital health!
Of course money arguments still happen from time to time for any couple, but truly, if you and your spouse can implement these three money practices, you can dramatically reduce your marriage fights about money.
Principle #1: Don’t Get Separate Accounts
When we get married, we become one. That’s a no-brainer, especially in Christian marriage, right?
So then why do so many of us married couples insist on living separate “money lives” by having separate financial accounts?
For many of us, I think it’s about control. Before we got married we answered to no one but ourselves. Our money was our money. Having separate accounts continues to allow for (at least some) control of the money.
But here’s the danger: Separate accounts often leads to secrets.
Now wait, you say. I may have a separate checking account but I’m not doing anything devious with it!
That may be true. But as Rachel Cruze notes in her excellent book Love Your Life, Not Theirs, the “that’s yours and this is mine” mindset can be quite destructive in a relationship because, first, it takes away the notion of accountability.
When all of our family spending is out in the open, Cruze shares, it is incredibly vulnerable for husbands and wives. But, in the long run, that vulnerability can only build marital trust.
Cruze states in Love Your Life, Not Theirs: “Keeping your accounts separate is one of the most effective ways to completely wreck your financial life–and maybe even your marriage.”
I agree. However, yes, my husband and I have found that having joint accounts provides much-needed accountability (which we’ll talk about more in a minute); but honestly, this truth also has helped my husband and I solidify the concept of our combined incomes as “our money” despite the discrepancy in our individual salary contributions.
We don’t see earned dollars as “my money” or “his money” because it all flows into one source and it all has one purpose–to support our family and to be a blessing to others.
Principle #2: Manage the Emotional Side of Spending
Money is one of those places in marriage where there are many opportunities to be downright petty and childish, right?
I’m telling you, money can bring out the best in us (or the worst). If we’re not careful, we can develop a spirit of what Cruze calls “competitive spending.”
Picture this: Your husband’s laptop computer suddenly breaks down and it’s instantly clear that he needs a new one. You’d been eyeing a new laptop for yourself but you’d both agreed to hold off on purchasing it because you’d planned to spend that money on an anniversary getaway.
But now, this surprise laptop break down requires that your family not only purchase him that gorgeous new laptop, but that you cancel that much-longed-for anniversary trip.
Have you ever experienced a similar situation (and felt even a little bit angry and resentful about it)?
I know I have. It doesn’t seem fair that he gets the new computer when you were the one who really wanted it. And it’s a doubly whammy that the impromptu laptop purchase caused a forfeit of your vacation.
It’s enough to cause loads of anger and resentment between spouses (and perhaps a few “justified” shopping trips to the mall armed with a credit card as “revenge”).
Money causes our emotions to flare! It can be incredibly difficult, but to keep money from destroying our marriage, we have to remove the emotion behind it and see the truth our spending.
What keeps me grounded is, again, focusing on seeing our money as a unified provision for our family. “My” salary didn’t buy his new computer; “our” income did. And I know that if I had been the one who had a computer break down, my husband still would have agreed to purchase a new computer instead of take that anniversary vacation.
We’ve got to stay vigilant about identifying and talking through the emotions behind our financial choices so that they don’t slowly sabotage our marital relationship.
Principle #3: Agree on a Financial Plan and Stay Accountable
In your marriage, are you a spender or a saver? In his financial books, courses and online resources, Dave Ramsey calls these two competing money personalities in marriage the “nerds” and the “free spirits” (I like that!).
The “nerds” are the financial planners who love making budgets (and who has an affinity for spreadsheets).
The “free spirits,” on the other hand, enjoy spending money as they like and hate the idea of being accountable to a budget.
In his insightful best seller The Total Money Makeover, Ramsey says that, in most typical marriages one spouse is the nerd and the other is the free spirit (opposites do attract).
But my marriage, I’d classify both my husband and I as nerds (but with just enough free spirit in us to get us in trouble)!
That’s why my husband and I are convinced that a financial plan is such an essential part of a strong marriage. If either of us didn’t have a budget and a plan for our money, yes, we’d be a bit stir-crazy (nerds can be like that); but more importantly, without a financial plan and accountability, we’d have just enough wiggle room for impulse purchases that could really get us into trouble.
How can you make a strong financial plan? It’s easier than you think, and honestly, one of the best investments in your marriage! Be sure to check out the incredible resources in the next section (these have truly changed our family’s life)!
But first, I want to speak about accountability because this is where we still get tripped up sometimes (as do many married couples).
Having combined accounts is a huge first step. Next, I’d also suggest regularly checking in with each other regarding the spending. Dave Ramsey’s free EveryDollar app is an incredible resource for tracking everyday expenditures on your smart phone.
I’d also say that there’s no substitute for regularly talking through monthly expenses together. I am the one who literally pays the bills, but I share a detailed report with my husband each month of where we are financially (and how it relates to our budget) so that both of us stay accountable and on track.
3 Must-Have Resources for Managing Money in Marriage
I can’t stress enough how valuable these financial resources have been in our family! Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover book and Financial Peace University have literally changed our family’s finances from the inside out (we went from being over $100,000 in debt to now being debt-free except our mortgage).
Rachel Cruze’s Love Your Life, Not Theirs book also is a fantastic resource for married couples looking for solid tips about how to handle money in marriage.
And for help with everyday budgeting and accountability, I’d highly recommend EveryDollar! There is both a free and paid version of this financial software and app (the paid version downloads your monthly transactions automatically) and you can set up a budget in about 10 minutes or less.
Best of all, your financial info is available on both your mobile and desktop devices, which makes money management incredibly simple. Learn more here.
Here’s to stronger marriages and less fighting about money!
FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ramsey Solutions.
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