We all know money issues can have a negative impact on our relationship. The question is: How can we conquer money problems so we can enjoy our marriage?
According to Ericka Stouter (source), women rank money issues as the number one concern in their marriage.
Reminds me of the song, ‘For the Love of Money’ by the O’Jays. The opening lyrics are:
Money, money, money, money…
Some people got to have it
Some people really need it
Listen to me why’all, do things, do things, do bad things with it
You want to do things, do things, do things, good things with it
Therein lies the problem…what we do with it!
Here’s what Ericka found:
1) Agree to Agree
I’m sure you’ve heard the adage: Let’s agree to disagree. This works to keep emotions in check when discussing controversial issues.
It is not the road to take when dealing with money issues in marriage.
Agreeing to agree is the rule of the day.When dealing with money issues in marriage the rule is not agree to disagree, but agree to agree. Click To Tweet
There is power in agreement. Make no mistake about it.
Agreeing means we come into harmony with one another. One definition says: Accordance in opinion and feeling.
Think about it.
When we share the same opinions about money…when we share the feelings about our finances, we are empowered to work together toward the same goals.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this factor. Do what it takes to get into agreement first. Then move to the following steps.
Make sure you discuss your money issues, including the following tips and help, until you come into agreement on the major issues.
Get help doing this if you necessary.
Where to find help:
Dave Ramsey has several books that are good for basic debt reduction. While there are other methods, his approach helps you see progress faster than most.
His two most popular books are:
You can also find Financial Peace Classes in your area. This helps build accountability and you can learn from others as well.
Below are two other courses that are excellent money management resources. I also want you to know that we are affiliates for both of these courses. That means we might receive a small fee if you purchase through our link.
Just know that we are very selective about the programs we recommend. We only refer those with a proven track record.
2) Set Realistic (yet hopeful) Goals about Money
Setting goals helps you focus. It allows you to know what you want to accomplish, how long it will take, and what you need to do to accomplish it.
Every couple should have written financial goals.
These goals should include long term, mid-range and short term goals.
Long Term Goals include retirement planning, property investments, and business opportunities.
This is where you want to be in your golden years. It’s more than retirement planning; it’s about building something you can pass on to your children and grandchildren. This is legacy planning.
So what are your life dreams? What would you like to leave your family? What do you long to create that will impact generations to come.
Long term goals are the plans to turn those dreams into reality.
Mid-Range Goals are where you want to be in the next 5 years. Start a new business? Write a book? Become a life coach?
These are things on your radar and part of your dreams and vision. You may not be there yet, but if you plan properly you can be.
Short Term Goals are debt elimination, spending and saving.
This is ‘in the now’ thinking. What will you do now to move forward to achieve your mid-range and long term goals.
This video explains the two major ways of eliminating debt. The debt snowball (made famous by Dave Ramsey) and the debt avalanche.
Video Courtesy of Next Level Life
Need a simple plan to start the process? Download this debt reduction spreadsheet.
Why is this important as a couple?
For starters, sharing your dreams connects you. When we allow our partner to enter our world of hopes and dreams, they become a part of the process. They share in those same dreams.
3) Be Open, Honest and Transparent
I’m assuming you don’t want money to be an issue in tearing your marriage apart. That said, the only way to navigate the rough waters of money problems is to be honest.
This means your partner can’t judge, belittle or condemn. This is crucial.
The best way to destroy a marriage is to judge. It’s important to create emotional safety in your relationship, especially when it comes to finances.
Another way to connect on a heart level over money is discuss your fears. While some may think this is a negative approach, I’ve found that couples who share their concerns, fears and worries often get on the same page faster, and come up with more clear cut solutions.
The more vulnerable we become, the closer we move to the heart of our spouse.
There is something about the transparency of sharing our deep concerns that connects us.There is something about the transparency of sharing our deep concerns that connects us. Click To Tweet
4) Predetermine Your Spending.
It’s called a budget. The reason I chose to lead with predetermined spending is most people disconnect the minute they hear, see or read the word budget.
Living on predetermined spending is the most important step in actively resolving money issues.Living on predetermined spending is the most important step in actively resolving money issues. Click To Tweet
What does predetermined spending do:
- Eliminates arguments (more about this later)
- Ensures you are living within your means
- Eliminates stress
- Creates trust
5) Set Regular Check-In Times for Accountability
There is an old business adage that states: If you can’t (don’t) measure it, you can’t improve it!
Accountability provides the basis for measuring and improving your money situation.
Couples that meet together to take care of family business are usually more healthy in every area of life.
Here’s how it helps:
First, it builds trust. When both partners are working together, it keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and alone. You grow together when you work and play together.
Second, it helps you keep short accounts.
Let’s relate this to dieting. When you weigh every day you never let your weight get out of control.
It’s the people who neglect their diet and exercise over a long period of time who get in trouble. If you eat wrong and fail to exercise for a long time, the next thing you know you are 30, 50, 60 pounds overweight. It’s a whole lot easier to measure frequently so things don’t get out of control.
Third, it allows you to actually track progress and see where the problem areas are.
It is easier to identify what’s happening when we are keeping short accounts.With money and dieting, it is easier to identify what’s happening when we are keeping short accounts. Click To Tweet
Back to the dieting illustration:
If you wait 6 months or a year before you weigh yourself, you might discover that you have gained weight. But you won’t know ‘what’ caused the gain. The simple answer is, ‘I ate too much!’ But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
For example, if you monitored your weight on a regular basis and you began to notice some extra pounds showing up, you are more equipped to know exactly what you are doing to gain the extra weight.
You might realize you are snacking too much at night before bedtime.
Or perhaps you are eating out too often.
You may even discover that nothing has changed in your diet so the issue may be hormonal, or some other bio-chemical reason.
Point is: You won’t know if you don’t monitor regularly.
Same with your money.
It’s easy to find fault, blame and jump to conclusions about where the money went. But if you meet regularly to discuss, review and sharpen your plan for spending, you will know exactly what is happening.
Finally, it keeps you glued to the budget.
The fact that you are planning your spending and reviewing it regularly aids in keeping you on track.
By the way, if you are not living with predetermined spending, you are making it far more difficult on yourself.
6) Create Boundaries
This is often puzzling to couples. Here’s what it means…When couples set a budget they create a boundary that produces safety. Click To Tweet
Let’s use our budget as an example.
When couples set a budget they create a boundary that produces safety. Remember what we said earlier about creating trust. Boundaries do that.
But there is another very important part of boundaries. They become the judge (accountability is a better word) when things go wrong.
The last thing you need to do when things miss the mark on the budget is aggressively confront your partner and act like the judge. This only creates disconnect.
So, the budget becomes the judge.When it comes to money issues in marriage, the budget becomes the judge. It's the arbitrator between you. Click To Tweet
Sure, you have to discuss the problem, but your predetermined agreement (see above on agreeing), serves as the thing that holds you accountable.
This eliminates one partner from judging the other. The budget is the judge. After all, you both agreed to it. So technically speaking no one should get mad. It’s been agreed upon prior to.
Quick story of how this works:
Years ago I was leading a staff of people. Some were paid staff. Others were volunteers.
It was difficult confronting volunteers about poor performance. After all, they are volunteering their time. So who was I to critique what they were doing.
This is a terrible attitude for a leader. It’s abdication of authority. And it hurts the vision of the organization.
At one point I shared my struggle with one of my mentors. His suggestions and insight changed everything for me. It was one of those ‘why didn’t I see that’ moments.
‘The easiest way to solve this is to create a predetermined ‘job description’ or ‘project description’ that covers expectations and requirements. Go over it with each person on the team. Make sure they have ‘buy in.’
Once you do that, the document becomes the judge. It is the thing that holds them accountable.
When you do have to confront someone, you simply go back to the document and let it be the judge.
The conversation is much easier because they agreed to the requirements and expectations ahead of time. It puts the pressure on them and their performance rather than you and your leadership.
It was so simple. And it worked.
Same applies to marriage and money. Your agreement serves as the accountability.
I hope so because that little morsel of information can help save your marriage if you apply properly.
7) Take Responsibility
This follows nicely on the heels of #6. For accountability to work, both partners must take responsibility for their actions and attitudes.
If you blow it, admit it.
Bring it up before it comes up.For accountability to work, both partners must take responsibility for their actions and attitudes. Bring it up before it comes up! Click To Tweet
Read that again. Bring it up before it comes up.
Here’s why that is best:
- It builds trust.
Your partner will respect you for owning it. This always helps create a better relationship.
- It diffuses potential problems.
- It says ‘I care that I blew it.’
If you want your marriage money issues resolved before they become BIG issues, take responsibility.
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8) Live a Little
I realize this can be a dangerous statement for those who have spending problems.
To tell this to some people only justifies bad behavior. That is not what it is intended to do.
If you are the person who generally lives ‘out of control’ and you yield to your base impulses, ignore this point. You will only use it to get things you want without consideration of your spouse and your agreement.
Here’s what I mean.
Did you ever see the movie The Shining? Crazy weird.
Jack Nicholson plays a writer who is serving as an InnKeeper in the winter off season. He goes a little bat crazy while there.
There is a scene where his wife finds his typewriter and discovers what he’s written. It’s a peak moment in the film.
Here it is:
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!
As creepy as it sounds, it’s true.
When we fail to play, we fail.
Take time to enjoy the reward of your hard work. It keeps you motivated and inspired to continue on.
Let’s wrap it up with one final key.
9) Hate Debt
Debt is the enemy. You must begin to see it that way. It will destroy you, your family and your dreams if you let it in.
Don’t just live to be debt free. Hate it. See it for what it is - a destroyer of lives. Click To Tweet
If you cultivate that attitude, you will not be tempted to compromise your destiny and future on the altar of convenience and immediate gratification.
See it for what it is, and hate it.
Nine things that will resolve your money issues in marriage.
- Agree to Agree
- Set Realistic Goals About Money
- Be Open, Honest and Transparent
- Predetermine Your Spending
- Set Regular Check-In Times for Accountability
- Create Boundaries
- Take Responsibility
- Live A Little
- Hate Debt
Now it’s your turn. What are the biggest money struggles you have?
How have you navigated the murky waters of money issues in marriage?
Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey
Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins