As I’m nearing my 11th wedding anniversary, I have been thinking about some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
No doubt I still feel like there are an unlimited number of lessons for me to learn still, but since we’ve had our fair share of money fights, these are a few takeaways that I’ve had.
I hope you find them helpful!
1. Money issues need to be talked about
Many people try to avoid subjects (or really anything) they don’t like or are afraid of. You have to face the giants. If your finances are a mess, you have to face up to the truth. How can you expect to move a mountain that you refuse to admit exists?
2. Decide what you want to accomplish – together
In order to succeed financially as a team, you have to have unity. You may not agree on everything, but find those areas that you are in agreement and shoot toward those goals.
They will be a lot easier to attain if you are both putting focused energy towards them rather than pulling against each other for your own thing.
3. Realize that you balance each other out
This might not be the case for everyone, but for my wife and I, this was clearly one of the reasons God brought us together. We both bring different financial mindsets to the table and it keeps us in proper balance. If one is a spender and the other is a saver, I got news for you: it is probably by design.
If my wife were just like me, we would be living an unbalanced life, probably saving too much for the future and not focusing enough on today. We both bring balance to each other’s life financially.
In our case, we both had to make sacrifices to meet in the middle, but because of it we are living more in line with God’s best for us.
4. Support your spouse (yes, even if they have problems)
It is so critically important to cut each other some slack and allow your spouse an opportunity to grow. None of us are perfect and we all have areas to grow in.
Part of the growing process involves making mistakes, so if your spouse isn’t being as financially disciplined as you are – cut him/her some slack.
If you are constantly nagging your spouse about money (or anything for that matter), it doesn’t give them much incentive to change and it keeps them from being open with you about their failures.
Being able to encourage each other when either one of you fails is very important.
5. A budget is necessary
Living on a budget is different for a single person than it is for a married couple. Let me say, I think everyone should use some sort of a budget, but especially married couples.
When a couple lives without a budget, they both can be secretly thinking, “well, I will let my spouse take care of it,” and things can fall through the cracks. Having a budget creates an unbiased system to hold both parties accountable for their actions.
6. Individual spending money is necessary
It is way too much of a hassle to have to discuss EVERY purchase you make. Each person needs a specific (and small) amount that they can spend however they choose – but just like allowance, no more when it is gone.
It has worked well for us to make this cash solely for individual, miscellaneous purchases – going out to eat, clothes, buying food for potluck at work, etc. You can look at how we manage our money, but basically 95% goes to our joint accounts to pay our bills, pay debt, common saving goals, etc.
The remaining 5% gets divided between us for our individual interests.
7. Eliminate sources of strife
This was eye-opening to me. When we first got married, we paid for gas for our own car out of our individual spending money. It just seemed logical to me and seemed like it would work fine.
We only had a limited amount of spending money for each of us and it would be enough to cover the gas for the week and other miscellaneous things we needed like I mentioned above.
The problem arose in a very subtle way – we both seemed to be keeping a mental list of how often we drove places together in each other’s car. And of course, we both often thought that we were driving our car more than the other person.
We really were not selfish in other areas of our marriage, but that one small thing was causing unnecessary strife. Now we pay for all of the gas out of a joint account – problem solved.