Let's face it. Relationships are challenging in the best of circumstances, right? You are different. Have different tastes. Different interests. You were raised one way. He/she was raised another. You are flashy and he is quiet. You like the toilet seat down and he leaves it up. He likes 3 square meals a day and you can barely make coffee or a sandwich. You are messy, he is a neat freak.
Then you add in money and it's a whole new ball game. You know how to budget. He does not OR….he knows how to budget and you hate that word. B.U.D.G.E.T.
So, how do you, as a couple, mesh your different thought processes together and agree. Because agreement is really important here. 80% of the root cause of all divorces is money. Yup. 80%.
Money is great. Money is the means to an end. It allows you to live indoors. Have food on the table. Running water. Electricity. Maybe some new clothes now and again. All wonderful things, right?
But what happens if he is a ‘Eat now for tomorrow you may die' guy and you are ‘a penny saved is a penny earned' girl. Or you love catalogs and packages in the mail. And he is like ‘Woah…why do you need 72 pairs of shoes?'
Do you know how to navigate the waters of money? No? Well, lucky for you I have a BUNCH of posts addressing budgets & money. Check them ALL out.
The best thing that could have happened is that you talked about your financial situation BEFORE you got married. Most couples either don't think about it, are afraid to bring it up, or really don't care.
If you have opposing views you will have silly fights. And those fights can grow into bigger ones. You are a saver and get upset that your husband spends. He is a spender and says you are cheap and won't let him have a little fun.
What to do: Talk it out. What are his views? What are your views? Learn from each other. Keep an open mind and then compromise and come to an agreement.
Maybe you want to own a house and your spouse is happy renting. Your husband wants to save 10% or more towards retirement and you would rather go to the mall.
What to do: Shared goals is a MUST in anything…but, especially in the arena of money. Conversations need to be had and agreements made so that you are both in accord and on the same page.
Credit card debt is a soul sucker in any circumstance. When adding it to a marriage it can be devastating. It is especially difficult when one partner brings credit card debt into the marriage. How do you manage the payment of that debt?
What to do: If you know about the debt before your marriage you both need to discuss it and decide, together, how it gets repaid. If you did not know about the debt…see #4 below.
Financial infidelity is just like any other type of secret. It can include gambling debts and habits, secret bank accounts, stealing money from the joint account, undisclosed debt, hidden purchases and more.
What to do: Financial infidelity could be covering up other emotional issues. Get help from experts. Treat it like an addiction.
The combination of 2 incomes sure can make you feel financially powerful, right? Unfortunately poor spending decisions happen because of that perceived influx of money.
What to do: Sit down, together, and plan a budget and make a monthly budget. Make a spending plan AND a savings plan. Work together. Compromise.
Major purchases need to be done as a couple. If you come home with a new sofa or he comes home with a new car…without discussing it beforehand, your marriage will take a hit.
What to do: Discuss, agree and plan for all major purchases together.
Another cause of divorce is stress and disagreements over major unexpected expenses. What happens when an elderly relative needs care, or there are medical emergencies, or major home repairs? How do you handle them?
What to do: Not knowing what major expense will pop up, it's difficult to plan ahead for a particular one. Make sure you have an emergency fund…which will handle most types of financial emergencies.
You just can't agree. No matter how many times you discuss it a compromise can't be reached.
What to do: Knowing that most marriages end due to money arguments, find a counselor. The problem may be an emotional one that no amount of discussion will fix.
You do not have to combine bank accounts when you get married. Some people say to keep 3 accounts: Mine, Yours and Ours. I am NOT a big fan of that – I totally believe that you can manage money, together, with one account.
What to do: Establish a budget. Within that budget each person has a ‘personal spending' fund that they can spend however they please.
A budget is a tool, like a map, that will get you from here to there. If a budget is not in place neither you, or your spouse, know the parameters of what to buy or not to buy. As a result, you get lost.
What to do: Set up a budget, stick to the budget.
Dave Ramsey had this to say in a survey he conducted in 2017:
Rather than succumbing to the financial arguments, disappointments or frustrations…make changes.
Talk it out. Write it down. Make lists.
Try to ensure you both have ‘no questions asked' personal money.
I once heard someone say ‘My husband won't let me buy that dress.' I know they are on a budget and I thought it was working for them. But, from that one statement I know that she either does not understand the budget or is not on board. When she says ‘I can't buy that dress because it's not in the budget right now' I will know she is on the right track.
Here's to you staying married…until death do you part.