Ideas to help you spend in sync with your spouse
A couple with money harmony enjoys marital harmony.
From research and to some extent from experience working with my clients, the money topic is one of the greatest sources of frustration in marriages and a key source of increasing separation/ divorce cases today.
The main reason is that many people are uncomfortable talking about their spending habits, the amount of debt held, the amount of income earned, etc. let alone to strangers but to their spouses! This discomfort is especially true when these monies are in short supply… “When money stops coming through the door, love starts going out the window.” Spending in sync can reduce stress and lead to greater savings.
Here are some tips to follow:
- Know your own flaws, e.g. Do you tend to overspend on certain things? Do you get defensive when talking about the bills? Knowing and identifying your own flaws makes you less judgmental of your spouse. Seek to understand them as well. Understanding your spouse and their family habits and traditions is a great starting point. Each family is unique in how it relates with each other, with others and in their way of doing things. Spending habits, risk tolerance, individual financial goals and attitude towards debt may be influenced by these and must be discussed and consensus arrived at.
- Set goals together. Set aside one day per month to discuss money. This is the time when you can talk over current and future expenses, and discuss priorities. I could share countless stories of couples that made big financial decisions completely out of harmony with their spouses. The result of most of these is not pretty. A significant amount of conflict could be avoided with effective communication on money. Couples would be well served by having a good heart to heart conversation to make sure that they share the same financial views.
- Create a system of managing money that works for you then do your part in sticking to it, e.g. You can choose to have separate accounts for personal no-questions-asked use and a joint account to handle household expenses. If you are able to budget together, all the better. Download ‘our monthly budget’ template from my resources section and plan away!
- Continue to learn about money together. I am fascinated by couples who attend coaching sessions together. This is rare. Often, one spouse begins coaching with the other joining mid-stream. Attending coaching or financial management courses together is one great was to learn about money together. In reading personal financial management books such as ‘Managing your Finances God’s Way’ and watching programs on money management, you will begin getting better educated about money. Doing it together will help you keep each other accountable.
- Celebrate success. When you achieve a set goal, celebrate together. That will help keep you both motivated.
In any relationship, honest or open communication is key, and this must hold true with money discussions as well. The ideal situation would be to provide full disclosure as in a business partnership where all financial information must be disclosed to be successful. In such partnership, there is no hiding of details of transactions, each partner agrees to the set goals and each has a say in all the aspects of the enterprise.
In marriages sadly, many feel that their partners should not have any say in their money which is a relationally destructive attitude. In a partnership, everything that comes in belongs to the partnership. That’s what should ideally happen for marriages which are lifelong partnerships with no anticipated dissolution as in a business partnership. However, most find such disclosures difficult, with too much potential for conflict and so they avoid it.
Every couple needs to be in agreement on all their major purchases. Each couple must decide on the maximum amount that each may spend without consulting the other. Any amount above this agreed upon amount by either spouse will require complete agreement.
Choose a system that works for you and stick to it.
Assess and arrest your own flaws
Set goals together
Stick to a working system of managing money
Continue to learn about money together
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