Before Robert and I got married, we decided that one thing that we were always going to be a team on was money. While we are absolutely not perfect and still have a hard time figuring out exactly where money goes, we don’t mind discussing it.
Money isn’t a chore with us, it’s just something we deal with. Money is not an end all, be all of life. It’s simply something that you have to use in order to live. It should never rule your life. We control money, it does not control us.
Over the last few years, we’ve learned some ground rules for money in marriage. Now of course, there are many more than this but I figured that these are good starting points.
Have Both People Involved, but One Person does the Numbers
One of the main things that can start an argument is if both of you are not on the same page. A plan can’t work if only one person is doing it.
Usually it’s just easier if one person deals with the numbers (how much needs to be paid off and how much money a month can make it happen). They then work with the other one to figure out how to get the money in order. If you’re trying to save money but you both don’t try, it’s not going to happen.
Remember, you are a team and you have got to talk everything out together. Just because one person handles it DOES NOT mean that one person makes all the decisions.
We actually have a rule that a purchase of anything $100 or more needs to have a discussion before it’s bought. That way if a bad purchase is made, it’s not one person’s fault. You both agreed to buy it, so the consequences are on both sets of shoulders.
Make Talking About Money Painless in Your Marriage
The only way to make your money conversations easy is to never avoid them. We found talking about money was easier when we started talking about it here and there almost everyday.
When it becomes part of your daily conversation rather than a dreaded once every other week sit down meeting it’s not bad at all. Talk about how you can save money while you’re cooking together, or money goals when you’re lying in bed before you go to sleep.
It’s like practicing a skill when you’re learning something new. The more you practice it, the less you dread the practice itself.
Make Goals Together
While you’re talking about money in everyday life, talk about goals and dreams that you have. Take the time to think about what you want in life, and talk about it with your spouse.
Together, you can figure out how to get there and when that dream may become a reality. This helps you to learn more about one another but it also strengthens your marriage too.
Our major goal right now is to pay off $40,000 in debt, but we have a lot of other goals too. We want to have more kids, sell our current house and buy another one, maybe move out of state. We also have a dream to travel to Ireland one day (that’s mostly my dream but Robert is cool with it too).
One of our biggest long term goals though is to one day be able to give away 50% of our income annually. We have no desire to ever live large, but we have every desire to one day give large.
Don’t be afraid to dream big. Make short term goals and long term goals, just be realistic with your current situation. You can figure out how to make those dreams possible over time.
Remember, every dream does not have to come true right away. It takes time.
Go on Money Dates
I’ll post more about how we do a money date when we go on our next one, but it’s basically a chance for you and your spouse to get out of the house and talk about money.
Now you don’t want to be spending a whole lot of money on this as that will ruin the point. Go to a coffee shop or somewhere fun (we had our last one at Krispy Kreme and it was awesome!) and sit down with your notebooks, calculators, and laptops if needed to hash it out.
Being in public will keep the fighting to a minimum. Think about it, would you be more likely to fight at home or in public? But really though, and it will help keep you focused on the task at hand.
It’s something that probably isn’t needed all the time, but maybe once a month. If you’re having a hard financial month and can’t go out, wait til the kids are in bed and set out a nice snack in the living room/dining room and do the same thing. Come up with your goals, talk about what needs to change between last month and the current month, and have fun with one another.
Seriously, it makes money talk fun. You’re on a date talking about dreams and things that are important to you. And then you get to figure out how to make it happen!
Make the Plan Together, Conquer the Plan Together
Like I said before, it does your marriage no good if only one person is doing the work. I always love when Robert and I work together because then things get done faster and one person doesn’t have to do all the work by themselves.
The same goes for a money plan. If you and your spouse have a goal to save $100 in a month and one of you is spending money like crazy, that goal is never going to get met.
It’s ok to hit a snag every once and a while but it’s not ok for one person to consistently be dragged along. If one of you doesn’t agree with the plan in the first place, change it so that you know you can reach it. The more goals you conquer together, the more accomplished you will feel in your marriage.
In the end, money does not have to ruin your marriage. As long as there is an open and honest conversation about everything it is possible for any couple for succeed with money.